Saturday, 31 December 2011

Winter


Happy New Year

(Ok, so I didn't do this painting in a day but I couldn't resist putting this up as my first post!)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I want one!!

Janine Partington is a very very talented enamel artist! (You can visit her website here). I bought a medium sized one of these for Tom as a thank you for letting me stay with him when I was studying. It's arrived and it's absolutely gorgeous and I really really want one!!







Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My future career?

I have about a zillion things I need to do so what am I doing? I am sitting here contemplating my navel....soooo.....I've decided to do something useful and compile a list of things I could do for my future career...

So far I have

A Lipstick Namer
Can you imagine how cool that would be!! I think I would be fantastic.........you could have things like Purink (which is a combination of purple and pink obviously) or Zombie Blue or Road Kill Red!! (See, told you I'd be great!!)

I could be a Fashion Detective!! (or maybe constable??)

I could arrest people for having incredibly stupid hair (there seems to be a lot of that about at the moment - I saw a girl today that was obviously trying out two different styles on either side of her head), I could insist that teenage boys go wild and actually buy trousers that fit and I could ban shell suits for life!! (I think the world would be a better place without shell suits!!)

A
Hairdresser Torturer
Not all hairdressers just the ones that wash your hair. They always seems to manage to spray the water down both your front and back before then going on to try and give you a frontal lobotomy whilst pretending to give you a scalp massage!! (and I'm not even going to get into the scalding hot vs freezing cold water thing)

A Singer
I'll follow people, whom I find mildly irritating, around all day singing annoying little ditties that they can't then get out of their head for weeks and weeks (Like Wigfield's Saturday Night or The Chicken song)

or maybe I could just be a Fairy Princess......what do you think?

(Can you tell it's been a LONG day!!!)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

We made it out alive...but only just!

Bloody New Year! This year I am completely stumped for ideas on what to do. Every year (well, apart from the ones in Thailand) Tom, Chris and I get together and do something...

The first year we decided to go to Wales. None of us had ever been and, since we are all fans of the (original) TV show 'The Prisoner' we settled on Portmeirion. We booked a cottage in a neighbouring village and lunch on New Years day at the Portmeirion Hotel. The holiday itself was wonderful - walks on the beach, good food, stunning countryside and Portmeirion was amazing (even in the pissing rain!). The journey to get there however was...erm...eventful! I shall explain....

We left Manchester quite early and without breakfast figuring that we would stop somewhere that looked interesting on the way. We crossed through Snowdonia National Park and, I can't remember who started it, but someone starting singing the banjo duel tune from the film Deliverance and we all got the giggles (Now, before anyone gets upset and thinks I'm making nasty comments about the Welsh...I'm not. We have sung that tune in Scotland, England, France, Thailand and Cambodia...we always sing it when we are miles from anywhere!). Anyway, a little while later we drove through this tiny villiage and, as we came out the other side, we spotted a hotel perched on the top of a hill in the distance. We all agreed that it looked like a good place to stop! Oh if only we had known...

We turned off the main road, went across a bridge and followed a very steep single track road up to the hotel. Chris pulled up, parked the car and we all got out...the two boys stretched their legs and talked about how nice it was to be out the car...I was looking at the hotel. To say it was run down would be an understatement...the courtyard was covered in weeds, the windows filty and the curtains surrounding them were thin and ragged. It was at that point I spotted a creepy wee man staring/peering at us out one of the downstairs windows. He was thin, pale to the point that he was more blue than white (and I thought Chris was bad!) and had a shock of bright orange hair on the top of his head...he was also not blinking! All I could see was this pale, unfriendly, floating face staring at us through the window (It was dark behind him so I couldn't see the rest of him). Now, I don't know about you but I have watched many a horror movie in my time and this would be the point when I would be shouting at the TV 'Don't be so bloody stupid...get back into the car and drive!' so I was about to suggest that we do just that when a huge bearded bloke opened the front door. He looked at us and we looked at him...then he grunted (seriously, no hi or smile or anything...just a grunt!) and went back in the hotel. We, and I am ashamed to admit this, then did a very British thing...he had acknowledged that we were there so it would have been rude (!!) of us to just leave. We walked up to the front door, pausing only to note that the welcome mat was a piece of astroturf (I am not making this up!), and entered the darkest, dingiest, dampest corridor that I have ever been in in my life! It also absolutely stunk of wet dog...which, when it appeared, was huge, matted and the friendliest thing we encountered! As we entered the corridor we saw the bearded man go through a door at the end of it so we followed him (Sheep? Us? I don't know what your talking about!). Chris was leading, I was in the middle and Tom was bringing up the rear. The wee creepy man had now appeared to the left of us and was just standing in the doorway...still staring...still not blinking and I was thinking 'This is it! We are going to be chopped up into little pieces and our car will be dumped with 'the others' in a ditch somewhere'. As we walked down the corridor we could hear faint music playing from somewhere and it got louder the further down we went.

Now, those of you that know Tom will know that he is not subtle at the best of times...you will also know that he can't whisper. What he does is holler what he wants to say out the side of his mouth in the mistaken belief that if he does it out the corner of his mouth he is being quiet...let me categorically state that he is NOT being quiet!...Chris was now in the room that beardy bloke went into, I had just turned the corner when Tom hollered 'I can hear banjos' and then preceded to piss himself laughing...to be fair it was banjo music that was playing and in any other circumstances I would have seen the funny side but...what he hadn't seen yet and I, to my horror had, was the life size skeleton that was standing just inside the doorway! The life size skeleton that was dressed as a bride...veil and everything! Now if you are a local I am sure there is a completely harmless hilarious story attached to the bride skeleton but let me tell you...at that moment it wasn't remotely funny and I did not want to do anything to piss these people off!! Tom got an elbow in the ribs to which he responded 'What' loudly out of the corner of his mouth (he stopped laughing quite abruptly when he saw the skeleton!). Beardy bloke had now opened some of the curtains in the room we had followed him into and the weak afternoon sunlight that managed to make it through the grubby windows revealed a small, shabby bar. Beardy bloke then went behind the bar, turned and said 'What can I do for you?' in a manner that implied that he didn't want to do anything for us. Chris replied 'Erm, we were looking for somewhere that did food'. I don't mind saying that I was on the verge of turning vegan at that point...there was no way I was going to eat anything that had been prepared in that place and I was pretty certain that they wouldn't have anything suitable for a vegan! It was to our delight that the guy then replied 'We're not doing food today'. Let me tell you that, had you been watching, you would never have seen three people bolt out of somewhere so fast in your life!! We were down the corridor, out the door and in the car faster that you could say winkie! Once we were in the car Tom started roaring with laughter...to which Chris responded 'We're not clear yet. We still have to get down that slippy road and across the bridge...we can laugh about it then because if we don't make it we will have to go back in there'. I have never been so relieved to be back on a main road in my life!! We then all relaxed and started laughing (slightly hysterically!). Told you the journey had been eventful!

Anyway, what to do for New Year...which was actually the point of this post...two years ago we went to Cornwall (it was mostly shut!) and last year, because of the weather, we got together here...we picked a course each (with wines chosen to completment of course) and cooked a huge, utterly fab, meal. This year I have no idea what to do...any suggestions would be gratefully recieved...

Monday, 28 November 2011

It's about bloody time...

that I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and wrote something on my poor wee neglected blog! Truth is I've kind of lost my way blog wise...I've looked at it a few times recently and just didn't know what to write...it kind of feels like I don't know what it's for anymore. When I started it was to keep people back home up-to-date on life in Thailand (Yep, too lazy to write individual e-mails!) but now we're back I don't really know what it's supposed to be anymore...but I miss blogging and I miss my blog friends so decided what the hell...it's my blog and it will be about whatever weird notion that happens to pop into my head! (Ha, you have been warned!)

Anyhoo, I was telling a friend of mine about 'THE DAY' (insert scary music here) that I handed in my dissertation and she suggested that I share it here. Oh, for those of you that are not on Facebook (*hangs head in shame* I'm afraid that I do spent waaay too much time on there!) I have now finished my Masters and not only did I pass...I have passed with distinction *does happy dance*. I graduate on the 10th of Dec. Blimey, it has been a while since I blogged hasn't it! Right...where was I?...Oh yes...THE DAY!

To really put this into perspective I need to do some scene setting. My dissertation was about long-term health conditions. I wanted to know where the designation 'Long-term condition' left the person that had been assigned it and what barriers, if any, adults faced when trying to 'manage' their condition. To be able to do that my dissertation was split into two sections...the first was a STEEPLE analysis of the subject and the second was a qualitative study which involved going out into the community and talking to patients. Now, because I work with THINk, who have a statutory duty to speak to patients, it was agreed that I wouldn't need to go through an NHS Ethics Committee. This was agreed in January by one of the PCT (Primary Care Trust) directors. I needed a signed letter from the PCT stating that I didn't need NHS Ethics Committee approval and I could fail my whole dissertation if I didn't have it...I had asked for this a month before my due date, and two weeks before my due date, and a week before my due date....

The other thing that you need to know is that there was some confusion as to whether direct quotes counted towards my final word count...my dissertation tutor said no but another student, who had also done a qualitative study, said yes. A week before my due date my dissertation tutor went on holiday and it wasn't till after this that we had the 'do they count or not' debate. So, a week before my dissertation is due I'm almost finished....all I have to do is go through the suggestions my dissertation tutor made and write my final summery, I go upstairs at 9pm on a Saturday night to find an e-mail there stating that quotes do count! I had less than a week to re-write my findings, then go through the entire thing making my tutors suggesed alterations and write my summery..I finished it at midnight the night before it was due in. The letter from the PCT had still not arrived! I asked for it three days before my due date, two days before and the day before...na da! (Yeah, you can imagine that the old stress levels were...erm...orbital!). It was not a good week!!

THE DAY dawned and despite this being the technical age London Met (in it's infinite wisdom) don't accept any accademic work via e-mail. So on Friday the 3rd of September (a date that will forever be ingrained in my mind!), unable to sleep, I was up at the ungodly hour of 4am. The dissertation was written but I still had to pull together the appendices, my bibliography, my references and sort out the last formatting details, I then had to get two copies printed, bound and to London before 5pm. At 9am I phoned my boss about the letter, at 9.30am I got a call from the PCT Director to say that she would get the person who was responsible for writing the letter to call me, at 10.30am he finally called and told me I would have it in five minutes. By 11am I had done everything except my page numbering which I couldn't do because I didn't have the guy's full job title and it had to go into the body of the text. If it was short then it wouldn't matter but if it was long then the page numbers would be out. At 11.30am the letter was e-mailed to me...he hadn't signed it!! I had to phone him back...ask him to print it, sign it, scan it and then e-mail it back to me. It arrived at 12pm. I frantically did my page numbering then phoned the local print shop to find out what format they needed the document in...only to be told that they couldn't print it...they could only photocopy it! AAARRRGGG!!! So I started printing...then the printer ran out of ink (at this point I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown) so I left Chris to deal with the printing and got dressed (I had been working in my housecoat up to that point). Chris then dropped me off on Malmesbury highstreet and I ran down the road, half dressed (seriously... I hadn't done up my boots, my cardigan was trailing on the ground and I looked like a mad woman!!)...clutching my dissertation. I got to the stationary shop, walloped it onto the counter and asked the slightly startled woman to make a copy...it took ages...and I mean ages!! Meanwhile we picked a cover and chose a snazzy black plastic binder for it...which...wait for it...didn't fit!! The dissertation was too thick. After rummaging around for five minutes the woman produced two white ones...the largest they had in the shop and...they were too big for the binding machine!! I was about to have kittens!! Chris (have I told you how wonderful he is?) decided that he might be able to fiddle with the machine to get it to catch the edges of the binder and ten minutes later he suceeded! It was now 2pm...we still had one copy to bind and I still had to get them both to London by five...it's a 45 minute drive from Malmesbury to Swindon, the train takes just over an hour to get to Paddington and then it's 45 minutes to get from Paddington to the Uni at Highbury and Islington. Chris drove like a mad man, the train was painfully slow...the tube even more so and then I had to wait for the bus to take me up to the Uni...

I got there at 4.55pm! I never ever want to go though something like that again!!

20,000 words were written, over 300 books and documents were read, 129 people were interviewed and a Masters with Distinction was achieved. I am never studying anything ever again and if I ever even hint that I'm even thinking about it you have my permission to take me outside and give me a good slap!!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I am still alive...stressed...but alive

Blimey it's been a while eh! I shall return properly but you will have to wait till September (seriously, I have an ever expanding list of things I am going to do in September...sleep is right at the top, closely followed by drawing and blogging....oh, and reading a book that is non-academic..so can't wait to do that!!).

Right now I'm just trying to beat my dissertation into some kind of shape!

I've 14,000 words to write (so far I have 5,000 ish) which needs to be completed and handed in on the 3rd of September. It sounds like loads of time till you factor in the fact that I'm writing about topics I've not studied before so I'm having to learn the topic as I'm writing, my academic supervisor is on holiday in August (how dare he!!) so the majority of it has to be done before he goes away so that I can get his input, 120 patients and carers got involved in my research so I have oodles of raw data that needs coded (which has to be done by the end of this month) and I have a separate report to write for work which needs to be completed by the 14th of August (Bloody GP consortium have decided to bring forward their discussion on the redesign of services for those with long-term conditions and since this work is to represent the patients view on the topic there is no way I can miss that deadline!!). I do kinda feel like I'm drowing!! But I only have a month and a half to go and then......freedom

Whispers *and then I am never ever ever studying anything ever again*

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Some random things

I am feeling a bit lacking in the old blogging inspiration department today. I have a cold and am feeling pretty miserable so I'm going to share some random facts with you which made me giggle:

1. The average Facebook user spends more than 55 minutes a day on the site. They use the Like button nine times a month and write 25 comments each month. (Blimey!)

2. The Licensing Act of 1872 (UK) states that it is illegal to operate a cow whilst drunk.

3. London Hackney Cabs must carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats (For the horses of course!). What's hillarious is that these laws have not changed for over 100 years and aparently some taxi firms have tiny bales of hay manufactured so that drivers can stay within the law!

4. Pregnant woman can relieve themselves anywhere without fear of breaking any laws! (Seriously, even in a policemans helmet if she so desired!)

5. It is illegal to ride an ugly horse in Washington.

6. According to Florida law, anyone who takes a bath must wear clothes.

7. If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

8. An iceberg contains more heat than a lit match.

9. In ancient Rome, when a man testified in court he would swear on his testicles.

10. Laughter is a proven way to lose weight! (Bring on the comedy!)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

I've got two lots of exciting news to share....

OMG have I got something exciting (well, for me anyway) to share with you today!!

I got my Uni results this week.

and

I am officially on cloud nine!!

because

I got my distinction!! *grins*

I now officially have a post grad diploma with distinction in organisation and community development. *does happy dance*

(I still have my dissertation to do which will, hopefully, convert my diploma to a masters)

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My other exciting news is that my lovely, and very talented, friend Leonie has launched a website to showcase her utterly fabulous photographs. Planet Aspie - Looking at life from a different perspective features pics that are quirky and unusual....please pop over for a look ....you wont be dissapointed! (and prepare to get your wallets out cause I know you'll want to buy one or two!)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

I will stand up and be counted...or, erm, something

When I was a wee lassie I was never particularly interested in politics and the political process. I always voted in local and general elections, I did check out the proposals prior to voting, but you could never have described me as interested!

When Chris and I met he introduced me to people like Michael Moore and Charlie Brooker and it was through their musings on our political systems that I began to take an interest. When we moved to Thailand I really started to see how important politics is and what impact policies can have on the population. I started to find politics fasinating and Chris and I went to a number of lectures given on the topic (we even met Thailand's current Prime Minister!). When we got back to the UK that interest stayed with me but I still didn't really understand our system.

Going back to Uni was a big turning point in my interest....I guess it kind of had to be since I've been studying things like 'Social Structures and Policy', 'Issues in contemporary Health Policy' and 'Community Development' (which covered the impact policy has had on our population over the years). I have discovered that I am becoming quite a political animal....I still don't know all the in's and out's of it all, and I am not about to pretend I do, but I am now a hell of a lot more 'aware' than I ever have been before.

I am going on my first ever protest on Wednedsay. Yes folks, I feel so strongly about what our current Governmnent are proposing to do to our NHS that I am going to march through London with a whole load of others in protest. Blimey!

I've read the White Paper 'Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS' that lays out the plans and I did a ton of research on the topic for my last Uni assignment. This is an extract from my assignment (Feel free to skip it if your not interested)

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The World Trade Organisations (WTO) main aim is to see free market trade in the provision of public services. With the decline in revenue generated from manufacturing, caused by increased international competition, US and European corporations are now looking to capture a share of the GDP spent on public sector services. ‘Many governments are deregulating and privatising public-service funding and delivery’ (Price, Pollock and Shaoul, 1999: 1889) and the UK Government is one of them. They have done this by contracting out services, introducing public-private partnerships and by introducing compulsory competitive tendering. Many changes, of which the public may be generally unaware, have occurred within the health sector; there have been changes to resource allocation with money now following the individual rather than resources being allocated on area needs. Additionally corporations within the health care system have been set up along commercial lines, with Acute Trusts and PCT’s being required to break even ‘after having made a profit for their owners (the Government) equivalent to a 6% return on capital’ (Price, Pollock and Shaoul, 1999: 1891) - which means finance (and not health-care) may be the top priority; and by getting rid of new public funding for capital projects the privatisation of public funds has been achieved.

The effect of these initiatives has been devastating and has had a major impact on both funding and services; ‘the introduction of the private finance initiative to the acute hospital sector in the National Health Service has resulted in a reduction of 30% in capacity at the hospitals concerned and of 20% in clinical budgets and workforce’ (Price, Pollock and Shaoul, 1999: 1892). It is clear that the involvement of these private organisations will have an impact on the delivery of health policy locally.

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It's only going to get worse under the proposed plans so on Wednesday the 9th of March I will be pulling on my comfy shoes and joining others at 5pm at the Royal London Hospital (Opposite Whitechapel Tube Station) to march along Whitechapel road, through the city (Home of the Banks) to Barts and The London Hospital. I am going to stand up and be counted!

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Blackhouse by Peter May

I think most of you know by now that my Dad is the award winning writer Peter May so it will come as no surprise to you that this post is a shameless plug for his new book. (At least this is exciting....waaay better than listening to me going on about the hell that is working with macro's in an excel spreadsheet!)

I am his biggest fan but I am also his harshest critic. This book? Well, I honestly think that this is the best thing he's ever written. I couldn't put it down and, in my humble opinion, it's a must buy for anyone that loves a good book! Don't just take my word for it.....it's already reached number 15 in the UK's top 40 bestselling hardback books (it's only been out a couple of weeks!), it's won the prestigious 'Prix des Lecteurs' (readers' prize) at the French Le Havre festival of crime writing (it's been out for a while in France) and it's currently Waterstones book of the month.

This is what it says on the book jacket:

A brutal killing takes place on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland: a land of harsh beauty and inhabitants of deep-rooted faith.

A Murder

Detective Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to investigate. For Lewis-born Macleod, the case represents a journey both home and into his past.

A Secret

Something lurks within the close-knit island community. Something sinister.

A Trap

As Fin investigates, old skeletons begin to surface, and soon he, the hunter, becomes the hunted.

It's described on Amazon as 'a crime novel of rare power and vision'.

You can buy it on Amaxon here or you can download it on Kindle here.....go on....you won't regret it!

(Told you this was a shameless plug but a daughter has to do her bit!)

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

I have a plan.....

So much for all my good blogging intentions eh! Urgh, my last two modules were pretty bloody horrific which is why my poor wee blog (and let's face it....my poor wee life!) has been so neglected!

Honestly, it's one thing to be told that you have to write a 3,500 word essay but it's another thing completely when you discover that the 3,500 word essay is to be written on a topic that was covered in an hour on the very first lecture and none of the recommended reading associated with the module related to what you needed to write about! Seriously, fourteen weeks of teaching and I felt like I knew absolutely nothing about the subject!

The other module, ha, well it lulled you into a false sense of security! Four 1,000 word essays....yep, I can do that! Ahhhh, but it's not just 1,000 words....you need to design and trial a questionnaire....then write 1,000 words on the process (by the time I got to draft 19 of the bloody thing I could have happily set fire to it!), that was followed by a 1,000 word critical analysis of statistical data (OMG that involved a lot of research), a 1,000 word research proposal which will form the basis of my dissertation (so no pressure there then!) and a learning log which involved writing 1,000 words explaining how you went about keeping the log and the actual log itself! The document I handed in was the size of a brick!!! Still, *breathes sigh of relief* that was the last essay of my modules....all six are now done! If I pass (which I will find out in a months time) I will officially have a Postgrad Diploma *crosses fingers*

For my dissertation I am doing a big piece of research around Adults with one or more long-term health conditions who live in Tower Hamlets. NHS Tower Hamlets are doing a strategic review of services and my research will feed the patient perspective into the redesign. The data collection goes live today and I have a plan folks (be afriad...be very afraid!)....I'm going to do the actual data collection for my dissertation three days a week (give or take), spend one day researching and writing it (it's not due till September) and one day is going to be dedicated to blogging and my art stuff. We'll see how it all goes!

I shall pop over and visit you lovely lot over the next few days :-)