Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Could The New Postgraduate Study Loans Help The NHS?

Post grad study seems to constantly be at the back of my mind the past few weeks. Shall I start my Masters?  Which course shall I undertake?  Do I really need a MSc to progress in my career?  So many questions and numerous answers.  Having investigated a few options I felt a little restricted, especially as I was looking to my employer to fund any postgrad courses.  Therefore the course has to be completely relevant to my job description for any funding application to be considered.  Furthermore with increasing pressure on NHS Trust funds there are huge reductions in funding for post grad study, whichever profession you are.  

Not one to give up easily and as SoR Learning Rep I am keeping an eye on opportunities for CPD and study options.  Initially not paying a lot of attention to the announcement in the Budget earlier this year that there would be new Postgraduate Study Loans available from this September, I decided to investigate a little more whilst on annual leave this week.  These new loans are available for post grad courses that lead to a Masters qualification.  The course you undertake must be provided by a UK university, including the Open University, can be a taught or research based course and can even be used to fund a part time course and by distance learning.  This creates numerous possibilities for those of us looking to gain a Masters qualification.  Imagine the possibilities this could create for NHS employees in improving their own knowledge and the service and care that they deliver.  No longer restricted to study certain courses we could enhance our knowledge which in turn will improve service delivery and more importantly improve the standard of care delivered.  Obviously it is important that we complete courses that are specific to our jobs aswell so that we can continue as individual departments and Trusts as a whole to raise standards.  Also as staff would repay the loans themselves there would be no extra strain on Trusts finances.

But lets think outside the box for a moment.  What if I decided to study the MSc. in Mental Health Science with the OU?  Whilst it is not directly related to Radiotherapy, Oncology or Radiography, which my job is, lets stop and think.  Actually this course would be related to all of these and could be very beneficial to the care of my patients, for staff and the department.  As part of this course I would develop knowledge and understanding of stress, anxiety, depression, psychosis and dementia, aswell as developing a critical understanding that could help me improve clinical practice.  With the final module being a research project in an area of mental health science I could tailor this for radiotherapy patients.  

So maybe it is time we explored different options that improve us as radiographers and continue to help us raise standards of care.  Could these new Postgraduate Loans be the answer?  I would love to know what you think.

Until next time, take care.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Enjoying Wine from the Virtual Vines of Brancott Estate

Arriving home from my last shift for July I was delighted to find an invitation from Brancott Estate, for the following evening, to join them for the launch of their Virtual Vines experience at Camp Bestival.  No stranger to the use of virtual reality (VR), having used VERT as part of my radiography training, I was intrigued to find out more about this new VR experience and looked forward to being transported to the vineyards thousands of miles away in Malborough, New Zealand.

After a busy day of travelling and setting up camp, Andy and I were in need of a chilled glass of wine.  So we headed to Brancott Estate's Red Barn whilst Lucy 'babysat' Amber and Kitty with a wander around the stalls and sights in Castle Field.  Greeted by the friendly team, smiles fresh as the festival weekend was only just beginning, we were directed to the bar for wine tasting before trying the Virtual Vines experience.  Met by a very knowledgeable 'barman' both Andy and I chose to start with Sauvignon Blanc, a firm favourite for many years.  Questioned about flavour and then gaining a greater understanding about this wine as we tasted three wines of different price brackets. Whilst we enjoyed our favourite so far that evening, we awaited our turn to pop on the VR goggles.

Sat at our own little stations we were assisted into the goggles and headsets before we headed off into the world of Virtual Vineyards, transported to the vineyards of Brancott Estate thousands of miles away.  To begin with it was a little unnerving as I looked around and not see Andy and other bloggers but to be in a barn!  However I quickly adjusted and found the story captivating, learning a little of the history of the vineyards and the development of the flavours in creating their different wines.  This truly was a novel way of gaining an insight in to Brancott Estate and I love it when a brand can tell a story, making me feel part of this story.  Having taken this virtual trip to the Malborough vineyards, both Andy and I were keen to learn even more and returned to the very knowledgeable barman/sommelier who taught us how to appreciate every glass of wine.  Pedro, you can be sure we now use these tips every time we drink wine!  

Whilst the Virtual Vines experience is not available everywhere, if you get the chance be sure to pop on the VR goggles and learn more about Brancott Estate.  I know that they will be at The Big Feastival at the end of the month.  Sadly we are not attending this festival, but I can safely say we will be continuing to enjoy Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris this summer, as it has now become a firm favourite in our fridge, especially the Letter 'R' Sauvignon Gris from the Letter Series.  Andy and I are also very keen to develop our knowledge and are looking into courses closer to home.  So a big thank you to Brancott Estate for taking us on a virtutal visit to your vines and improving our appreciation of good wine.  

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Weekend of Festival Family Fun

Last Thursday we packed the car to the gunnels, leaving just enough room for us and the girls and headed south for a weekend of festival family fun at Camp Bestival.  Excitement levels were high as we travelled over 250 miles to Lulworth Castle, so even after an early start nobody was catching up on sleep.  The further south we got the brighter the sun shone and bluer the skies became, which was welcomed as there is nothing worse than heading to a festival when the weather is damp and cold! 

In record time we had pitched the tent and collected everything from the car.  Best decision so far had been choosing a pitch in Camping Plus that was closer to the car park, having last year been closer to the festival entrance.  This made it easier for unloading the car of all the 'essential' kit we had brought.  Later this decision was also very welcomed in that there was less noise from the festival late at night.  Thankfully we were pitched before the rain set in, so making the tent more homely with bunting, lights and garlands was delayed due to the weather.  But within a couple of hours the rain moved on along with the fog and the tent was looking much more stylish.  So off we went to explore the parts of the festival that were open.  For me this first glimpse, late in the afternoon on Thursday is in some way magical.  Captivating the true essence of the festival as smiles beam on childrens faces as they see things for the first time or revisit another year older, seeing things with fresh eyes.  The huge flags sway in the breeze as the clouds separate to reveal a deep blue, sun sparkled sky.  Yes this is the moment I treasure most.  

So with the tent feeling like home for the weekend and the sun returning there was much fun to be had.  Here are some of our favourite moments from the weekend.

Fat Boy Slim
For me this was the highlight of the whole weekend. Katy B had been the perfect warm-up, taken back to my clubbing days with her cover of Let Me Be Your Fantasy.  Then he arrived, the amazingly talented Fat Boy Slim.   Sounds of those hacienda days of my youth filled the air as I danced with the sun setting across the hills and the castle lit up, reminiscing of my clubbing days.  This was a moment I will never forget, thank you Camp Bestival.   

Jess Glynne
With the line up announced several weeks ago, the girls were very excited to see that Jess Glynne was headlining on Friday night.  A firm favourite in our house, her album on repeat for weeks, this was a moment that we would not be missing.  We sang and danced the night away and Jess certainly did not disappoint with a brilliant set.  Obviously the following morning I was asked to tie Jess Glynne plaits for Kitty, who had spotted how her favourite singer had her hair tied the previous night!

The Science Tent
Every year this just gets better.  Workshops aplenty, which adopted the space theme of the festival and performances to captivate the most unlikely scientists.  Kitty especially loves the science tent, getting to be hands on and exploring ideas.  Of course this gets my stamp of approval and love how families can get to explore science together.

Kitty - Think I may need to grow before I use this fork!

Even in the evening, the vibe was cool at the Feast Collective, 
with DJ BBQ providing the music and entertainment.

The Feast Collective
Again this did not disappoint and the food is delicious, exciting and quite frankly amazing.  With aromas to captivate the senses, tunes from DJ BBQ that seem to fit just perfectly with the vibe of this street food market.  Whether you wanted an ice lolly made from fruit and veg, a naan bread packed full of spicy chicken and salads, fish burgers that you can almost smell the sea in every bite, goat spiced of flavours that take you to streets in Africa, burgers loaded with melt in the mouth pulled pork or just an Americano.  Bursting with flavour, the Feast Collective is definitely our favourite part of Camp Bestival.  

Dingly Dell
When you need to escape the chaos, noise and sun for a little while, Dingly Dell is the perfect place to go.  With pathways to explore, hidden delights in Lizzie's Way and fun activities from the National Trust, there is still plenty to do.  Yet in Dingly Dell I always feel the pace has slowed, there is time to just be, moments to reflect.  Even though our daughters love the craziness, the noise, the bustle of the festival they also love to escape to Dingly Dell.  Just pressing pause here for a little while, recharging before we head back into the warmth of the sun and the bustle of the weekend.  

Finally the big marquee that housed Bollywood in previous years was left unpacked and this whole area was amalgamated.  Having seen in previous years the split between inside and outside of Bollywood it just seemed 100% better this year just being outside.   A party atmosphere took over in the evenings, with a top line up of DJ's every night, especially as Trevor Nelson brought the Rhythm Nation to Bollywood on Friday night.  Perfection!

Brancott Estates - The Red Shed
Showcasing their brand new virtual reality experience, Virtual Vines, at Camp Bestival, Andy and I had the privilege of joining Brancott Estate on Thursday night for the launch.  I will be posting a full write up in the next couple of days, but the Red Shed was a great addition to the Castle Field.

We also spent time learning circus skills, in Art Town and saw some amazing bands and artists perform. I especially loved catching Ward Thomas late on Saturday afternoon and Amber loved Alice Jemima in the Big Top on Friday night.  There is so much to see and do at Camp Bestival and we never seem to manage to do everything we plan to.  Sadly this year we left early due to myself and Lucy becoming sick, perhaps due to the not so clean toilets, lack of running water for the taps and no soap in Camping Plus, as several people in the Orange zone were also ill on Sunday morning.  I know that all these things sound a little bit too luxurious for a festival campsite, but these are some of the reasons we have chosen to pay the premium and book a pitch in Camping Plus for the past two years.

Even though we left early we had an amazing weekend.  Every year the line up at Camp Bestival gets better and better, but so does everything else.  Whilst we have come to expect old favourites, there is always something new, something exciting, to be discovered.  A different theme every year obviously helps refresh the old favourites but I truly believe that there is something for everybody at Camp Bestival.  

So thank you Camp Bestival for an amazing weekend, where memories were made that we will cherish forever.  

Until next time, take care.

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.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Camp Bestival - Let The Countdown Commence

With than twenty days until Camp Bestival I am trying very hard to get organised.  There is a bag parked under the stairs that I gradually filling with some festival essentials and making lists like a crazy woman.  Packing for a festival is slightly different to holiday packing.  But with a few years of festival family fun under our belts I feel we have made progress in narrowing down the essential kit and much more besides.  A few days ago I tweeted the link to my essential Camp Bestival list, but this was compiled two years ago, so I feel a little refresh is required!

Obviously there are some things that should be on your list but here are some you may have forgotten.

- Matches - to light the stove
- Gas - for aforementioned stove
- Loo rolls - carry these with you at all times, although last year seemed to be restocked reguarly.
- Sleeping bags - obviously! Or a duck and down duvet if you have room in the car!
- Suncream and wellies - this is British summer time!
- Warmer clothes for the evening - as much as the many Pimms or pints of cider or fabulous      mummy    dancing may keep you warm the evenings do get chilly. Don't forget a cardi or jumper and   I always    pack a hoodie to sleep in when I camp, nothing worse than a cold head when you are       trying to get to sleep.
- Bubbles - unfortunately the no glass rule means no bubbles of the alcoholic type. But your children,   even teens, will thank you for packing a few bubble wands and pots of bubbles.
- Water Bottles - there are taps in the festival and campsites so take a large bottle to refil for water at     the tent and smaller bottles to refill for drinks.
- Beach Towels - these dry much quicker than normal towels so you won't have soggy towels lying    around.
- Picnic blanket - use it outside the tent and when inside the festival too.
- Torch, headlights and lanterns - even though the campsites are well lit, any or all of these are essential.

So that is my essentials now for my additional festival kit -

- Airbeds - nothing like a good nights sleep when you've spent all day at a festival. With the uneven  ground of the main campsite and even in Camping Plus I will not be forgetting mine.
- Bunting, flags and fairy lights - yes I cam one of those festival goers who likes a touch of   glamping   and these additions make the tent a bit more homely.
- Table and chairs - we have a fab camping table with chairs attached that packs fairly flat.  We always take a couple of camping chairs too.
- Kitchen Equipment - we have a Vango camping kitchen and is a godsend for creating a little kitchen area in the porch part of the tent.  Stove, pots, pans, kettle, plates, cups, washing up paraphenalia are all in one place and not getting in the way inside the tent,
- Lots of snacks - whilst there are more food choices than you can imagine in the festival I always take crisps, biscuits and fruit.
- Hair chalk, flower crowns, hats and face paints - obviously these are more for my daughters but I do have the obligatory festival straw hat.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Saying Goodbye to School.

Well it has been a busy few weeks in our house.  Exams a plenty with Connor taking his A levels, Jack having some AS level exams as well as Lucy and Amber having end of year exams. Thankfully this summer Kitty has escaped the rigourous testing our children are put through far too often, although we are still having to practice for the weekly spellings and times table tests.  Whilst there has been worrying and stress levels did increase I have been incredibly impressed with how my children have coped.  Maybe being constantly tested every year at school has paid off, they can all cope with exam stress.  However they all have different approaches to revision and I will be ensuring Amber is more organised and will be helping Lucy feel less panicky about the actual exams with practice papers before next summers GCSE exams.

With exams over this week has seen us reach some milestones.  Yesterday we all donned wedding worthy outfits and headed to the Leavers Day at Woodbridge School to celebrate Connor and his friends leaving school.  After a truly lovely and inspirational service in the school chapel we briskly ran through a short sharp shower across to the dining hall for pre-lunch drinks.  Over lunch we looked at the yearbook, reflected on Connors time at Woodbridge and contemplated the next part of his adventure.  As a mother you watch eagerly as your children grow into well mannered, funny, intelligent and beautiful people, sometimes wishing that they would hurry up and get to the next stage.  Those days when toddler tantrums are too much for your exhausted self to cope with, that another day of arguing with a confident, expressive teen is just too much.  But right now I just want to take some time, to stop the merry go round for a little while to enjoy moments with my children before I blink and they have all grown up and headed off on adventures when they no longer need me to wash their dirty sports kit or kiss grazed knees.  

So we made it through exam time, no mean feat and closed the chapter on Connor's schooldays but we have reached the best part of summer. Time for fun, festivals, days on the beach...well that is if the rain ever stops!  

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Weekend Wanderings - Latitude Festival

As regular readers know we are a family of festival lovers, with many yet to be visited and favourites already on the calendar.  Continuing my Weekend Wanderings sojourn around the Suffolk countryside it seems only right to mention Latitude.  About an hour north along the Suffolk coastline from my house, set in the beautiful grounds of Henham Park, our sleepy county hosts the festival filled with cultural treats.  Alongside big acts headlining the main stage smaller tents play host to poets and other literary performances, comedy and more initmite gigs from lesser known bands and performers.  For me it is these smaller tents that make any festival more magical, discovering new acts and not wading through huge crowds to get a glimpse of whomever is on stage.  

Whilst Latitude plays host to the plethora of Suffolk and Norfolk teens it is also a great festival experience for families too.  Infact the Kids Area could be considered a festival in itself!  With a jampacked programme of creativity, arts, crafts, music and science this year promises to delight families again.  Whether you want to learn to extract DNA from a banana with the DNA Splats, celebrate the bards big birthday and watch the Oxford Pocket Theatre interpret Shakespeare's plays for the younger audience or enjoy some puppetry and pizza with The Italian Job.  As the sun goes down over Henham Park, families can head to the Kids Area for a family disco, circus performances and on Saturday night children can join the parade.  This is just a tiny sample of the programme for children and families at Latitude this year.  For more information please visit the Family page.

As our own children have got older the music line up has become an important part of festi-family holidays.  This year Latitude welcomes The Maccabee's, Bears Den, Squeeze, Laura Mvula and New Order, to name a small selection.  A personal favourite for me is the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage, showcasing music from a multitude of different genres and hidden among the canopy of trees the Sunrise Arena welcomes new acts embarking on their first steps into the wonderful world of the music industry.  

So whether you are sans family or not, Latitude promises a fabulous weekend in Suffolk this year.  
More details of this years line up and tickets are available at .

Until next time, take care.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Den at Camp Bestival

This week Camp Bestival released the line up in The Den, which has caused some excitement in the countdown for our teenage daughters.  Amber is a huge fan of the Geek Girl series so will definitely attending the session with Holly Smale.  Meanwhile Lucy has been listening to music from some of the line up on Soundcloud and You Tube.  Whilst both girls are planning to be indulging in some tie dying fun and are interested to see exactly what loop pedaling involves!  

With The Den offering some diverse and exciting options for Amber and Lucy it means that we can take Kitty to enjoy some activities that the older girls may find a little young to do.  Perhaps some of you heading to Camp Bestival for the first time this year with teens were worrying they may get a little bored, rest assured they will not be.  Alongside the vast choice in The Den there is more than enough for them to do before they settle down at the Castle or Big Top stages to watch the many acts, nevermind the headliners!

Still need to book your Camp Bestival tickets? Head on over to the website now 

Until next time, take care.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Weekend Wanderings - Aldeburgh

With so much of the Suffolk coastline within a thirty minute drive from our house, we like to regularly head to the beach, whatever the season.  So I thought it would be fun to share some of our favourite places and beaches.  Kicking off with the pretty coastal town of Aldeburgh.  Houses painted in pastel shades complimented with brighter coloured doors and window frames can be seen from the beach.  Heading up little lanes from the shingle leads to an eclectic mix of independant stores alongside the likes of Joules and Jack Wills.  For us a trip to Aldeburgh is not complete without a visit to the sweet shop which sits next door to the fabulous ice cream shop, with a vast selection of over thirty flavours.  On chillier days a bag of chips from one of the best fish and chip shops in Europe is a must.  

The summer months see an influx of tourists, indulging in the cultural attractions of this pretty seaside town.  With the Britten- Pears Foundation being housed in Aldeburgh there is a strong musical theme to summer days, including a great one day festival along the prom, which Amber has performed in.  For the foodies amongst us there is plenty of choice with delicious dishes served at Regatta Restaurant or one of the hotels on the seafront.  Alternatively there is a good selection of cafes along the high street.

Moving away from the high street, head along the prom to the RNLI museum, boating pond or bowls green, heading towards Thorpeness.  Head out on to the shingle to the little sheds selling fish caught that day and then look out for the shell sculpture by Maggie Hambling.  On warmer days we like to settle down near here on the shingle, enjoy a paddle and a picnic.  But cooler days see us head back to the car or wrapped up warm for a stroll along the coastal path to Thorpeness.  

Be sure to pop back soon for more Weekend Wanderings.  Please drop me a line if you would like to contribute to the Weekend Wanderings series.

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Weekend Wanderings - Snape Vintage and Makers Market

With warm sunshine on a Bank holiday weekend the girls and I decided to head off to Snape Maltings for the Vintage and Makers Market.  Always on the look out for a retro addition for the house and with Lucy's growing love of vintage this seemed like the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.  Stalls filled with fabulous vintage clothes, retro furniture, vintage niknaks and beautiful hand crafted jewellery and artisan pieces offered plenty of choice.  Lucy brought some more records, as she is preparing for create a wall of album sleeves. so the bargain basket was perfect for this.  

The Vintage and Makers Market is a regular addition to events at Snape Maltings, so if you are lucky enough, like us to live nearby or are heading to the beautiful Suffolk Coastal region for a weekend or holiday, then be sure to pop by.  Dates can be found on Deben Events website aswell as details of other Vintage and Contemporary Markets. 

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Almost a Year

This week I have been qualified and working as a Therapeutic Radiographer for ten months. Time has flown by and the past few weeks I have found myself helping third year students prepare for their first interviews.  Has it really been a year since I was preparing for my Band 5 interviews?  Another topic of conversation on a recent lunch with one of the third years was the transition to being qualified.  This was something I asked several radiographers about as I prepared to start my first job.  However as much as they told me it was different, a nice different was a term many used and to prepare for being really tired to begin with, I wasn't prepared for not being given regular feedback.  After three years of having regular feedback and planning sessions with my annual mentor aswell as radiographers offering feedback on set and my clinical lecturer being there to offer support and feedback, as a newly qualified member of staff you can feel a little lost.  Whilst I appreciate that as a qualified member of staff I shouldn't need regular feedback, but this is my advisory for those heading towards to transition.  Be prepared to no longer have regular feedback sessions.  As everyone said to me when I mentioned it. don't panic, if I was doing something wrong I would be told!

So ten months in and I feel settled, but am ready for new challenges.  A natural progression is to start considering what I need to be able to do to consider applying for a Band 6 role.  Pushing myself a little harder, expanding my knowledge and trying to problem solve more. Next up on the agenda is deciding which postgrad study to complete,with a meeting this week to look at options with my manager.  With an idea of where I want to be in the next five years or so, I am hoping we can find post grad options to suit. Just beacuse I was older when I qualified does not mean I don't have plans! Finally a new challenge is about to begin as last Friday I was voted in as the departments SCoR Learning Representative.  Already full of ideas I am excited to see what myself and the team can achieve as I take on this role.  This is one of the many reasons I chose radiography, so that I could continue to learn, regularly taking on new challenges.  Bring it on!

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Food Glorious Food

A few days ago a rather appetising press release pinged into my inbox, as Camp Bestival announced the talented chefs headlining the Feast Collective this year.  As a bit of foodie I am always equally concerned about the delicious offerings at a festival as I am the music line up.  Previous years at Camp Bestival have left us with taste buds tingling, with the many vendors in the Feast Collective and beyond providing flavours from near and far.  

With a strong emphasis on street food style the Feast Collective is a carefully curated collection of flavours, pushing culinary boundaries.  So lets see what we can expect this year.  A firm favourite in our family, DJ BBQ, will thankfully be returning with his burgers to die for and sounds that make for a summer party.  This year also sees the return of Zoe's Ghana Kitchen, offering contemporary twists on traditional Ghanian dishes.  Of course sharing a name makes me automatically drawn to Zoe's stall!  Also we see the return of Seadog, with their seaside popcorn, Pimp My Ramen offering noodle burger fusions, alongside newbies to the tent, Makatcha, sharing exotic tastes of Indonesian Rendang.  With an ever growing trend for healthy foods, there are several options for vegan diets and for those of us aiming to reduce our intake of refined foods, especially sugar.   So a visit to The Chocolate Bear Kitchen and The Rattling Pan will be on my agenda and the girls and I are keen to try the 100% natural ice lollies from Polar Pops. And of course Andy and I will be heading to Noble Espresso's for a better caffeine fix than our camping kettle offers!  

Have I got your taste buds tingling yet?  The Feast Collective is just the beginning.  I will write again soon about the other foodie offerings for the weekend.

Until next time, take care.

To find out more about the line up this year at Camp Bestival and to book tickets visit

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Womens Day

Today is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the globe, whether these are social, political, economic or cultural.  Whether these achievements are big or small  International Womens Day gives us a chance to appreciate the work of women everywhere.  A day to shout from the rooftops or to quietly get our point across, but everyday we can aim for change, improve lives and achieve things that even twenty years ago may not have been possible for women.  

As my contribution to International Womens Day I thought I would signpost charities and projects I completely support.  

White Ribbon Alliance 

I discovered this charity a few years ago through a friend who went to volunteer at one of their projects in Uganda.  Every mother deserves to have their new baby delivered safely, wherever they are, respecting their religion, beliefs, values and traditions.  Respectful maternity care observes every expectant mothers right to care and support and became the main theme for WRA's initiative five years ago and is very much embedded in their work.  Personally I am eternally grateful to the amazing maternity care I was given at a very scary time with my youngest daughter, in the weeks before her birth and her early delivery.  White Ribbon Alliance reminds me that this care should not be taken for granted with so many women not even receiving basic maternity care. 

To find out more please visit the White Ribbon Alliance website

Inspiring Women, Inspiring Change - Anna Kennedy Online

Living in a world full of diversity helps us to accept differences yet many are still misunderstood and often feared because of this misunderstanding.  I was recently contacted about the Inspiring Women, Inspiring Change film project from Anna Kennedy Online showcases five mothers living with autism.  Motherhood is a scary world as it is but even more challenging for these women, caring for and supporting their children, yet they are achieving professionally with their children inspiring them everyday.  Autism is greatly misunderstood in our noisy, crazy busy world but it should never stop anybody achieving their goals and dreams, no matter how big or small.  Faced with numerous challenges as a mother with a child diagnosed with autism, these women have found support from each other through this project.  Whilst I may not have a personal experience of a child with autism, having recently had a child diagnosed with Motor Tourettes Syndrome, I would have appreciated a sisterhood like this in facing the challenges this syndrome provides.  

To watch the Inspiring Women, Inspiring Change film please click here.


Last year saw the first Sisterhood camp, created and curated by the very lovely Lou Archell of Little Green Shed blog.  Lou wanted to bring together like minded women to share stories, nurture creativity and with a love of nature.  So the idea of Sisterhood Camp was dreamt up and after months of planning became a reality.  For me the whole concept of women supporting each other is refreshing.  Sisterhood should be celebrated and Lou has certainly found a beautiful way to do this.

To find out more about Sisterhood camps, suppers and workshops click here. 

Also as part on International Womens Day I wanted to signpost you to a couple of posts I have written about barriers in womens healthcare here in the UK. 

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Becoming a Master of Science

Over the past few weeks I have felt it's almost time to set myself a new challenge.  Having adjusted to working full time and getting to grips with everything my new job entails thoughts have turned to the possibilities of postgraduate studies.  Obviously I love my job, so want to carry on working and know I can juggle study, commuting and working, having done this for three years when retraining.  But the postgrad minefield I am taking baby step onto is throwing up all sorts of challenges.  

There seems to be a good selection of courses available to me, yet the ones I am most interested in would involve moving house or taking a year out.  Neither of which I am wanting to do.  First up there is the MSc in Cancer Studies  at Oxford Brookes University.  Cancer biology and pharmacology had to be one of my favourite modules during my undergraduate studies and this Masters course at Oxford Brookes would definitely further my knowledge of this. But what benefit will this bring to my job?  Actually more than you think as one of the modules is Living with Cancer in Contemporary Society, looking at how cancer challenges personal identity, the cancer journey and survivorship. This would not only aid me now in being a better health professional but in the long term, should I get to be a review radiographer.  There is also a Research Methods module,which of course instantly appeals to me.  So what's stopping me applying?  I live in Suffolk, about 250 miles away from Oxford and as much as I love Oxford, I cannot uproot my family for a year, just so that I can study as sadly this is an attendance only course.  

Next up in my favourite courses list is MSc in Clinical Research at University East Anglia.  A little closer to home, virtually next door to where I work, making it a feasible option when considering location tick boxes.  Also this course is funded by NIHR which will mean financially nothing will change.  Furthermore there is the option to study part time, so effectively I am guessing that I could still be clinical as well.  This option definitely requires further investigation,  Meanwhile I will look at distance learning options, with postgrad courses in Radiotherapy and Oncology at Sheffield Hallam being favoured by other radiographers in my department.  Any guidance or other suggestions are truly welcomed.

Until next time, take care.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Hazy Summers of Sound

Yesterday driving back from work Clean Bandit popped up on a playlist and with the sun gently setting as I headed home I was taken back to last summer.  Happily cocooned in festival fun we danced and sang along as the sun set over Castle Stage.  Just another magical memory from our family time at Camp Bestival.  With Spring fast approaching, Andy, the children and I are starting to get excited about this years line up.  Where else can you see Bananarama, Fat Boy Slim, Jess Glynne and Tears for Fears, to name a few? Actually I am most excited to see The Brand New Heavies, some cool acid jazz sounds filling the hazy summer evening air, glass of Pimms in hand = perfection.  

So for the next few weeks as the days get longer and finally I get to see more daylight, (honestly there are days when I am concerned I maybe becoming a mole!) thoughts will turn to the promise of new memories being made as the sun sets over the Castle Stage.

To see the full Camp Bestival line up (so far!) and to purchase tickets please visit

Until next time, take care. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Magpie Moments - Silver Heart

Magpie Moments

Beautiful Silver Jewellery from Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery

Rarely entering Instagram giveaways, only choosing prizes I truly covet, I was delighted earlier this month to be named the winner.  Having captured my attention with her beautiful jewellery designs, Elizabeth of Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery visually fed my love of silver pieces as I followed her Instagram feed (@eanjewellery).  Therefore when I saw Elizabeth was having a giveaway for a gorgeous silver heart pendant, I decided to chance my luck.  All that sharing and screenshotting paid off, I won!  My prize is featured below and is a wonderful addition to my silver jewellery collection.

 As a supporter of artisan businesses I always love the story behind the creations, how the maker developed their skills and started on their creative business journey.  Elizabeth is an award winning designer whose eye for detail and ability to make simplicity truly beautiful, I'm sure you will agree, make the perfect bond in her jewellery design and creation.  

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 15 February 2016

In The Bag - A Wintry Walk

Wintry Walks

Clockwise from the top -Quilted Jacket from Barbour - Wellies from Joules - Leather Backpack from Eazo -
 Leather Thermos Flask from Beg Bicycles - Wellies from Joules - Leather Backpack from Paper High
Leather Backpack from Iris

Mercury on the thermometer may have plummeted but this should not be an excuse to stay indoors. Although I know how alluring the warmth of an open fire, a pot of tea and a good book can be when outside the air is crisp.  Pack a flask of freshly brewed coffee or hot chocolate, put on a warm coat, hat, gloves and scarf, tuck toes snuggly into boots lined with fluffy socks and head outside.  Exhale dragons breath and listen for the crunch of frost with every step.  

Until next time, take care.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Take Me On A Journey

image source - Lisa Barbero on Etsy

A sprinkle of sunshine on a chilly day has turned my thoughts to adventures in the warmer summer months.  Packing a bag, flying away, having an adventure.  With the children getting older plans to travel on our own seem less of a distant horizon.  Yet family adventures are still to be had and I hope for many more years to come, even when our hair is a little greyer, our bones a little creakier, adventures as a family will hopefully still be sought.  

With a hunger for culture, offering sights, scents and tastes to expand my mind and probably my middle, I want to take a trip to many cities.  But tiny islands can captivate our minds and senses in similar ways, tasting traditional recipes created in tavernas passed down through generations, overlooking bays with boats bobbing in a sparkling sea. Italy has always held a place in my heart, feeding my mind, body and soul. Tired feet, having spent days walking along narrow streets, navigating busy roads in cities can quickly be rejuvenated on sandy beaches, whilst the children can head out to sea in toppers, catching the breeze in their sails, returning to shore with sun kissed skin and salt in their hair.

So today as I continue in earnest with my decluttering my thoughts will be taking me off an adventure on cobbled streets, eating sundried tomatoes, olives and sipping an aromatic espresso or chianti in the warm Italian sunshine. Where will your next adventure be taking you?

Until next time, take care.

This post is my entry for the #MarkWarnerMum blogger competition, in the creative writer category. 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

World Cancer Day

There seems to be a day for everything these days, but today is an important day for me.  It is World Cancer Day.  Today is my day off, a break in the week when I can stop thinking about cancer.  Sadly for many people they don't get to have a day off from cancer.  Living with cancer is a term that is being spoken more often as survival figures climb, longer remissions possible.  Yet there is still so much to do.  Treatments are harsh, symptoms limiting quality of life and side effects changing peoples lives beyond treatment finishing.  Research is key not only for reducing the percentage of people likely to have cancer but for improving treatments and just as importantly improving care, service and information delivery.  Treatments are becoming evermore personalised yet we still have a long way to go in tailoring information to individuals.  

As part of the ICanWeCan project for World Cancer Day, I Can help every patient I treat cope with their radiotherapy treatment.  Of course I already do this and will continue to do this. But in the coming years I want to help my profession make improvements to service delivery, tailoring information to individuals, finding ways to help patients living with short and long term side effects of radiotherapy get the quality of life they deserve.  Even though I am a newly qualified Band 5 therapeutic radiographer I already have ideas and will research project ideas in coming months to see if they are actually viable. 

So what you can you do for the ICanWeCan project?  You can book that smear test, check your breasts, give up smoking.  You can take a friend who is living with cancer out for coffee and a catch up or head out for a walk with them, fresh air is good for the soul as well as relieving fatigue. You could make some meals for the freezer of a friend or relative currently having cancer treatment for their family, so they don't have to worry that everybody is getting fed.  Whilst we could all give a fixed amount to the various charities, which of course means we can make changes, improve treatments and save more lives.  Giving the gift of time, whether for ourselves to get checked or spend with a friend or family member living with cancer, or making a friends life a little easier whilst they receive treatment, is worth more than any donation.  

Until next time, take care.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

January Round Up

Whilst I have planned on monthly round up posts before I never seem to quite get around to it.  So this year I have decided to try and collate a round up as each month closes, sharing what I have been doing, reading, listening to and even watching.  

Reading  - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
In an effort to declutter and tidy the house properly once and for all I have turned to the tidying godess that has received high praise across social media in the recent months.  So fingers crossed her magic works on me!

Doing - Business Planning
This month has seen me helping my husband make plans for creating a business that fits around our family and gives him a way to share his talents.  To be honest I have thoroughly enjoyed this, donning my creative and marketing hats again.  Also one of the ideas will mean I can collaborate with him.  Watch this space.....

Listening - Adele, Foxes and Jo Whiley
This month I have continued to play Adele's new album, 25, whilst in the car.  A damn good sing along on my long drives home from work have been the tonic I needed as the dark evenings have become a little depressing.  My other love this month has been Foxes, I absolutely love this band and have added them to my various playlists this month.  Also this month I have been making sure I listen to Jo Whiley's Radio 2 show as much as possible, whether this is live or on catch up.  For me Jo's show is a celebration of talented musicians, old and new, whilst catching up with an old friend or big sister.  

Watching - War and Peace and Call The Midwife
After spending so much in the company of Dr McDreamy and the cast of Greys Anatomy whilst I devoured box set after box set on Amazon Prime, I needed a new fix.  This time it wasn't a hospital based medical drama, the only blood to be seen is on the battle field, or in childbirth. Having never read War and Peace, I know a terrible admission for a literature graduate, I was intrigued by the new adaptation.  Thankfully this does not disappoint and I am loving the character development, drama and beautiful location and costume of this epic.  Call The Midwife has become a firm favourite with myself and the girls, making time every Thursday after school to watch an episode in the wintry months, so we are thrilled that January saw it's return.  

What have you been up to this month? Any recommendations?!

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 25 January 2016

New Approaches In Womens Healthcare

This week marks the start of the annual Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, with Jo's Trust aiming to run campaigns to better inform the female population about this and encourage women to attend appointments for smear tests.  Oh yes those dreaded two words, something we try and avoid, completly dislike and wish we didn't have go at all.  Yet we should all know how important it is to make sure we attend that dreaded appointment every three years.  Early detection can save lives.  Really it can, it's not just a scaremongering tactic.  But I know how difficult it is to get an appointment at exactly the right time of the month.  

Recently I have been thinking about barriers in healthcare again, particularly womens healthcare.  Since turning forty I know my body will start to change, with the promise of menopause on the horizon and not many more years until I get my first letter to attend for a  mammogram.  But what should I really be expecting from the next few years?  Yes I am aware of the breast screening programme, but more through my job than being told this is what will happen in your mid forties onwards.  As for the menopause my knowledge is limited, unless I search for information or blog posts or magazine articles about it, there is not a fixed appointment with my GP to advise me about what to expect.  In amongst the national screening programmes and making sure we know the importance of early detection for cancer, we seem to have forgotten about the things that affect all women, or certainly the majority of us.  Female health seems very much to still be a bit of a taboo subject.  I am sure there are some of us who readily discuss changes in our bodies with friends or family but not everybody is fortunate enough or comfortable enough to discuss periods, breast changes, the menopause or fertility issues, or body changes after pregnancy and birth.  

So what can we do to change this?  Attitudes will need to change, but this takes time, gently feeding the need for information through blogs, magazines and newspapers.  Womens health issues need to not be whispered about but openly discussed.  I don't mean that we chat loudly on the bus, or in the supermarket queue, but that we have confidence to talk about our bodies and it's changes and problems.  No longer avoiding a trip to the doctors if something isn't quite right.  But this is where I feel there is a big barrier in us receving the healthcare we deserve and need.  With many surgeries having only one or two female GP's that often work part time, it is a real battle to get an appointment with a female GP.  Recently I was informed by letter that our family doctor had changed ad I was delighted we had a female GP.  However she only works part time and her hours sadly don't coincide with my day off, so the delight was short lived.  

Over the past few years Nurse Practioners have become an invaluable part of the surgery, offering knowledgeable advice and healthcare for so many of us.  So why doesn't every surgery have a Female Health Nurse Practioner?  This nurse could be available part or full time, covering more than one surgery in smaller towns or be full time in surgeries covering a larger radius or busier town.  We can visit with our concerns about periods, menopause and the many other gynaecological issues we have.  These nurses could also make sure we don't miss our smear tests or mammogram appointments, provide information about the risks and benefits of HRT or get us the help we need for incontinence after childbirth.  Having a friendly face at our surgery that understands the issues of the female body and knows where to get us the help we need or simply reassure us that it's quite normal would be huge bonus to the service provided.  Yes I know that this would cost money, something the NHS is always short of, but think how much it would save in the long term.  Women could readily access this service, preventing issues progressing to a level that requires more expensive healthcare.  Personally I know that I would happily make an appointment.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Note To Final Year Radiography Students

To All Final Year Radiography Students,

Right now it seems like there are not enough hours in the day I'm sure.  With a dissertation deadline getting closer and closer and clinical placement competencies to be met.  Nevermind trying to write your personal statement for job applications, with little time to actually search for Band 5 jobs.  On top of all that you are probably struggling to find time for friends and family, people moaning that you're a rubbish friend, sister, brother, mum or dad.  Everyday you wonder if you are doing the right thing, not even sure you will make that distant day in the summer when you will collect your results, qualify as a radiographer, start that first post as a band 5.  

Now stop, breathe, give yourself a little time off.  Even just half an hour to sit with a cup of tea and watch some rubbish telly, flick through a magazine, wrap up warm and go for a walk.  I know you have so much to cope with right now, but sometimes we need to take a short pause.  Everything will still be there when you press play again but taking time out will help, I promise.  Maybe that paragraph you've been struggling to write will now make sense, you will think of a way to manage your time better, making a plan of action or even feel better prepared to cope with a difficult supervisor on your current placement.  Little things can suddenly seem huge when you are stresssed, difficult mountains to get over.  Taking time out each week will be a huge benefit to you now.  So no more thinking I don't have time to stop.  Make time, write it in your diary, add it to your outlook calendar to make sure you have a little time out.  No more excuses, you need to take care of yourself to make it through the next few weeks.  

Good luck and take care,

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Wardrobe Staple = Breton Stripes

For the Love of Stripes

Oh yes I do love a breton stripe.  Like so many women across the nation, the world, the universe, I have a rather nice collection of these perfectly striped tops.  Navy and white perfection that is now a staple part of my wardrobe, whatever the weather. Teamed with jeans, cigarette pants or tucked neatly under a denim tunic dress, I really cannot live without breton stripes.   With the likes of Boden and Gap now offering a rainbow of stripes I am seriously considering making a few colourful stripey additions to my wardrobe soon.  Yet will I really stray away from the traditional navy and white combo?

Until next time, take care.