Monday, 6 July 2015

Camp Bestival Countdown

This weekend we headed to Midsummer Music, the little music festival in our village which is held every other year.  Crazily I had agreed to play in the orchestra, having not played properly for several years, I was amazed that I could still play my clarinet.  The weather was amazing, although it was perhaps a little too warm for playing and I know some of the bands performing longer sets suffered a little in the blazing sunshine.  Sat listening to some talented local performers and bands, Andy and I realised it was only four weeks until Camp Bestival.  Time to get organised!


Having been several times now we know what to expect and have added to and removed things from our list.  The essential camping kit is at the top of the list, but this is a festival so there always extras added to the list.  Aswell as doing things slightly differently to normal camping, eg. no glass bottles, not being able to refreeze ice packs.  So looking at my list from last year, which you can find in this post  I am deciding if there any extras to add and what I still need to buy.  I think some new bunting is required and I have just brought a new camping kitchen stand from Vango.  Amber and Kitty are keen to have a minion windsock, but at almost £25 I think we will make do with our old flag, although if I have the time I would like to try and rustle up one that matches the retro scout badge style of the Camp Bestival logo this year!

Any essentials you will be taking to festivals this year? 

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Monday, 29 June 2015

Time to Celebrate

Last Friday was results day, a day I had been waiting for and dreading too. What if I had failed my final assignment? But I needn't have worried, I passed, with flying colours.  When I started my degree almost three years ago I hoped to gain a 2:1, never in a million years did I think a first class result was within my grasp.  Yes I worked hard, bloody hard a lot of the time, but to achieve top marks wasn't my goal.  But when I was awarded a 1+ for my dissertation, mixed in with a few other firsts from different assignments, Andy joked that I may just get a first for my whole degree.  I laughed it off, but started to wonder if I could do it?

WelÅ‚ I did it! I was awarded a first class honours Batchelor of Science degree in Radiotherapy and Oncology.  I am officially a qualified radiographer and am on the HCPC register, having started my new job today.  After months of hard work, occasional tears, stressful moments, I can honestly say every moment was worth it.  To top it all off I was awarded the Monroe Prize for my dissertation and have been nominated by my lecturers for the SoR Student Radiographer of the Year.  Now that really is the icing on the cake!

So I am now contemplating which letters after my name come first! B.A or B.Sc?! Also this weekend Andy and I set a challenge.....first to get a Masters. Watch this space, or pop back in a 3-4 years to see who wins!

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Stuck in a Hair Rut


Not quite brave enough for this, but love it!

Tomorrow I am heading to the hairdressers for a long over due cut and blow dry.  Even more excitingly is my hairdresser is back from maternity leave.  She knows my hair and knows how I like it cut.  But I am feeling a bit stuck in a hair rut.  I seem to have had the same style for several years, infact I don't want to think exactly how long.  When I was younger I was braver, changing style and colour quite reguarly.  Then I got stuck, opting for an easy style, long enough to tie up if I wanted to or more usually because I was rushing to get the children to nursery or school.  But as I prepare to start a new chapter in my life and also recently turning forty, I feel I need a change.  I am very tempted to try a long bob, still just about long enough to tie back if I am having a bad hair day.  So what's stopping me?  It's festival and camping season, which means no readily available electric supply to plug my straightners into.  My hair has a tendency to frizz  and can be quite pouffy if left to its own devices.  

So do I risk it and go a bit shorter or should I wait until autumn for a new style?

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Monday, 15 June 2015

Barriers in Womens Healthcare

Today sees the start of Cervical Screening Awareness Week, with Jo's Trust and The Eve Appeal joining forces to hopefully encourage us all to ensure we have a smear test.  Whilst the Jade Goody effect saw more younger women heading to their GP's for their often dreaded appointment, older women are still not taking up the chance of an appointment.  Cervical cancer is not just a young womans disease, even though prevalence is greater in the under thirties age group.  

As a woman in now in her...ahem...forties, finding time for that appointment is difficult.  Even though I am only expected to attend every three years and it only takes five minutes, there are barriers.  Unfortunately my GP's surgery doesn't open beyond 6pm, which really doesn't fit with my working hours, as I am never home before 7pm.  Getting through the automated answer service to actually speak to a receptionist requires a degree and then the voice at the end of the phone is often condescending as you explain you can only attend on a particular date.  Just trying to work out exactly which date is complicated, making sure it is mid cycle and on my rota'd day off!  Perhaps Occupational Health at my NHS Trust could offer appointments for women to have their smear test, making it easier for the hundreds of women working at the hospital, avoiding those barriers that delay or prevent an appointment being made.

An even scarier thought is if I had symptoms that indicated signs of gynaecological cancers is the time it would take to make that first visit to the GP.  Getting an appointment to see a female doctor is nye on impossible, at my surgery they seem to only work part time.  Nevermind negoiating with the receptionist, who readily asks far more questions than necessary and beyond their need to know just to book me an appointment.  

So before we tut or get cross at women for not attending their smear tests or not getting to the doctors sooner with symptoms, we need to make womens healthcare services more accessible.  This is the 21st century, we should not have to use valuable annual leave to have a very necessary test, that could save our lives.  As I have said before, do not ignore that dreaded letter, inviting you for a test that you would rather not have. Getting through the barriers and having your smear test can really save your life.  

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Monday, 8 June 2015

Learner Drivers - When Your Children Turn 17


Maybe one day!

In the midst of finishing my degree my eldest son turned 17.  For Connor this is incredibly exciting as he can learn to drive, counting down over the past few years to this moment.  Whilst learning to drive seems a right of passage the moment you turn seventeen, it is certainly an expensive one.  Driving lessons are not cheap, to the extent that I slightly envy a driving instructors wage.  Although in all honesty I could not teach people to drive! A single hours lesson seems to be avoided these days, with a compulsory two hour lesson, preferably on a weekly basis.  Block bookings are no longer encouraged with no discounts for booking ten hours in advance.

But the spiraling cost does not stop at the lessons.  Before even booking a lesson Connor of course needed a provisional licence. Next up was booking his theory test, thankfully that was only £25. After just four hours of lessons, his instructor told him that a total of 30 hours should see him to pass his driving test.  Which actually isn't to bad as I think the average is about 40, so hopefully saving us £250.  Extra practice time in my car will help, so today I will be contacting my insurance company to see how much this will add to my monthly direct debit.  

Whilst the pounds vanish I keep reminding myself how important learning to drive is, especially to Connor, who has eagerly awaited this moment for a long time.  Giving him the freedom that a driving licence provides is essential, especially when we live in the Suffolk countryside.  He will be able to drive to school, to a part time job, to help Andy and I with the various drop offs and pick ups of his siblings.  Having not learnt to drive until I was 33, having not managed to pass before heading off to uni at 18 then never quite getting around to it in the following years, I know the freedom that being able to drive provides.  So for the next few weeks I will smile as I hand over another bundle of ten pound notes!

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Friday, 5 June 2015

Finished My Degree!

Well that's it, I have finished my degree. Yesterday I worked my final shift as a student radiographer. Emotions only got the better of me when I said my thank yous and goodbye to my clinical lecturer.  Over the past three years she has been there, when it all got too much, when I really wasn't sure I would make it to the end.  Without her I am not sure yesterday would have happened, that I actually finished.  To have a good clinical lecturer is a blessing and I actually feel I should have handed her a bottle of good champagne rather than flowers yesterday, as she wasn't just good she was incredible and feel very fortunate to call her a friend and to be working with her very soon.

Deciding to start the degree took time, there were days when I walked in to the hospital and questioned myself, my decision to retrain.  Taking any degree is hard, but taking a health degree can be incredibly tough.  Deadlines loom when you are in the middle of a ten week placement block, the job you do is stressful and you are constantly learning during every shift you work. Throw homelife in to the mix, teenage tantrums, GCSE's and AS exams, new schools, as well as everybody getting used to me not being around so much.  Nevermind giving up an income and getting used to commuting to placement. Whilst my clinical lecturer was there when I had a wobble, Andy and the children were my support at home.  Without encouraging words, a shoulder to cry on, an understanding look when I was particuarly stressed with my dissertation, I may not have made it.  Andy is my rock and his support these past three years has been incredible.  Even on my most stressful days my children made me laugh, reminded me that they were one of the reasons I chose to retrain.

But I did it, I finished and three weeks today I will qualify.  When people ask what I do for a living I can proudly say, 'I'm a radiographer'.  

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo
  

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Feast Collective at Camp Bestival


Obviously the music is the main reason I go to festivals but being a bit of a foodie, the food is a big draw for me too.  Last year saw the arrival of the Feast Collective at Camp Bestival and boy what a feast we had!  Our taste buds went on travels across continents as we all tried many dishes over the weekend.  For me the shashuka is still my favourite dish of the festival and I now regularly make it at home.  Andy and the boys loved the delicious burgers from DJ BBQ and the tandori fries from Baba G.  

Looking at the foodie line up for this year I know we will not be disappointed, as some old favourites return.  Even more exciting is the new additions to the Feast Collective - Happy Maki, Seadog, Shrimpy, The Thoroughly Wild Meat Co. to name a few. Nevermind Caravan Coffee to feed our coffee addiction and the fabulous Helen of the Knackered Mothers Wine Club is hosting another wine tasting.  

The best thing of all about the Feast Collective is that it is affordable.  When feeding a small tribe of hungry children at a festival you don't want to have to remortgage your house.  So delicious food, with flavours from around the world, that fills us all up and we get some change in our pocket too.

Did you head to the Feast Collective last year? Who was your favourite vendor?  I would love to know.

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Disclosure - This year I am one of the official Camp Bestival bloggers, working with them to share my top tips and reviewing the festival.  They have kindly given us a family weekend ticket, however all opinions are my own.