Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My 2014

This year has been a bit of an odd one; a mix of ups and downs. As I write this, it occurs to me that that's a bloody stupid thing to say. All years have ups and downs; that's life. But anyway, I figured I'd do a post looking back on some of the key events from the last 12 months...

(I'd go get some tea or what have you; this may be a long one...)


It was this month that I moved to Manchester and started my PhD. It was a pretty exciting month, as months go.
My en suite also flooded on the first day living in halls as well, so that was a thing.

Not long after moving in officially, my mum was rushed into hospital with a perforated duodenal ulcer. She was ok, but it took 3 weeks in a high-dependency unit before she could go home. It was a sobering start to the year which served as a reminder to never take anything for granted - especially people.


February was the first of important months for Sam and I in a whole year of important months: it was this month that we signed the contract for our flat (Sam can be seen with the celebration kit in the large pic), we had our first Valentine's together (most of which was spend in A&E). I called my first ever ambulance the following day (not for Sam, thankfully), visited home for the first time since moving away so my dad instantly took everyone to the pub, and there was some Weather that produced some topics for conversation.

Sam seemed to like wearing dark red (burgundy?) this month as well.


March saw Sam and I finally walk our first hill of the year: that old favourite the Mam Tor circuit. It made me realise that I had become painfully unfit and so I instantly joined the gym at uni. It was this month that I got my desk in the school and promptly turned into Wonder Woman: up at 6, at the gym by 7, back home for a shower and snack, at my desk by 11am and there until gone 8pm. Skyped Sam while I had my tea, then in bed for 10:30 before doing it all again. I managed this for 3 weeks before going for an unexpected night out from which it took me 3 days to recover.

I also surprised my Grandma on her birthday, which didn't seem to upset her too much. It was lovely to see my family again and it reassured me that I had made the right decision in signing to move back to Yorkshire in the summer (even though I wouldn't tell Grandma about the move until a few weeks before...). I also went to see Evita again. Alone, again.... And I would do it again as well. Brilliant stuff.


If my inhuman productivity hadn't actually been killed by my epic hangover, then April's month of awesome certainly put paid to any chance of it returning in the near future. I have to accept that Aprils are always going to be a bit of an awkward one for me for the foreseeable: Easter, Sam's birthday, and our anniversary all fall within this month. This year's April was brilliant. Probably the best month this year - a new camera (broken in with a squirrel-filled trip to Sheffield Botanical Gardens), a week-long visit from Sam, Sam's birthday (brunch at an ace restaurant, loads of creme egg cake, clubbing til 3am at the club where we met with our awesome friends, then playing Cards Against Humanity with them til gone 5am), almost an entire week at home, then all of it topped off with our one-year anniversary, for which we went to York (including the Railway Museum, natch), followed by dinner at our favourite restaurant complete with the celebration cake I'd had specially-made (which lasted 3 days and was delicious).

April was also the month when Goat Simulator was released, which was hugely important.

All in all, April was an amazing month.


Sam and I took our first hike with the new camera, we went to Grandma's and listened to the radio coverage as Rotherham United got promoted, I met some of Sam's extended family at a reunion on his Dad's side (where I photographed Sam looking like he belonged in a Britpop band), I got my first flower crown, and I was nearly late for a research seminar because there was an unexpected frog. I also played far too much Plague Inc. May was a lot more chilled out than April.


June was a fairly quiet month as Sam had exams and I was trying to get as much done as possible before our summer holiday in July. But I did manage to squeeze in the Mam Tor circuit with my mum. (Not bad considering she’d nearly died from a perforated ulcer at the start of the year!)


July was jam-packed, so I've had to break it up into two bits...

The non-hill bits: I explored a bit more of Manchester, Sam and I went to a pick-your-own and I collected a disgusting amount of strawberries, I annoyed the garden cat, enjoyed awesome graffiti on a night out in Shrewsbury, got all dressed up for my stepmum's 50th, did a midnight flit out of halls, and spent some quality time with Ben, the elderly family dog. Towards the end, Ben was getting forgetful and would growl at people he actually knew very well; this weekend was the last time he properly remembered me and I could make a fuss of him.

We also spent 10 days in the Lake District. It was... interesting. But my obsession with, and love for, the place remains steadfast. And I can't wait to head back next year.


August was a lot of fun, but at times a lot of work as well. Sam and I moved in together, my best friend Sadie (who I hardly ever get to see) visited me for a week (cue: adventures and clubbing), and I had my first major panic/crisis about my PhD - from which Sam valiantly rescued me. I'm a lucky girl.


September was another hard graft month, and so not a great deal happened that didn't involve me being shackled to my desk, but we still managed to squeeze in a fair few mini adventures: I attended my first ever conference, we went on a brief visit to Leeds to visit Robyn in her new home for her birthday, and discovered that the city can at times be quite pretty.

September was also a big month for housewarmings: after working on the cottage for 2 years, Dad finally had his housewarming party (where Sam spent the whole night being best friends with Ben (then, later, best friends with my Dad when he talked his ear off til 4am)). We also had our belated housewarming a week later where we played a ridiculous amount of Surgeon Simulator drunk (and Robyn and I - a nurse and an ethicist - were the only people to purposely kill the “patient” (to put him out of his misery)).


October was a quiet one right up until I finally got my annual review mini-viva out of the way, then in quick succession we had celebrations involving Almost Famous and the Corrie Cobbles, and a 2-day Halloween.


November was rather a lot of fun. I found out I'd passed my first year of my PhD (woohoo!), visited two of my best mates in Leeds, had a family birthday party, ate a bunch of yummy meals out on my actual birthday, got an amazing necklace for said-birthday, and generally had a brilliant time.


Yes! We're all caught up!
This month has been another weird one, but it's not been all that bad. Okay there was oral surgery, scary A&E visits (pneumothorax is not a fun word to hear sometimes), evil corporations, and general post-present skintness - but there was also friend visits, family time, mine and Sam's first Christmas tree, lots of hot chocolate, sushi (how seasonal), Xmas dos, a lovely belated birthday gift, and - of course - snow! (Which is starting to get really old, really fast).

So that was my 2014 - how was yours? If anyone else has done this sort of thing, drop me a link in the comments, I'd love to have a nosy :)


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Jingly!

I'm off to visit my family for a few days and I'm not sure whether there will be internet, so I'm taking a quick opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Jingly and to let you know that there will be a bunch of content next week as I gear up for 2015.

Now go eat an obscene amount of festive food.

Monday, 8 December 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Monday Jingly!

Ever since I went to Leeds in the middle of last month and "Merry Christmas, Everyone" randomly came on in Superdrug while I was trying to talk myself out of binge-buying lipstick, I have been trying desperately to repress the festiveness bubbling up within.

Last Monday - 1st December - the Coca Cola truck came to Sheffield, and I took it as a sign that I was finally allowed to release it.

Sam, the poor thing, has been hit full-force by this festive fallout and will continue to suffer its consequences until he finally escapes to Shropshire, and safety, for the big day itself.

Feelin' festive. Clearly.

But on the whole, he's being really rather good about it all; being brilliant with the tree set-up and decoration, and even buying in hot chocolate and cookies for us to have as a post-decoration snack. He's even got on board with my suggestion for an Xmas tradition: that every year we each buy an awesome bauble for the tree - so that we'll eventually have a tree full of awesome baubles. This year's picks are pictured below (I think it's pretty obvious which one's Sam's ... and it also happens to be the best, tbh).

There's a few more festive things to come this month... though there's also an awful lot of deadlines, teaching, and pretending to be an adult. So this should be an interesting one to balance.

Until then, here's our festive little cave for the next few weeks...

How's your festive feeling getting on?

Merry Jingly!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Unqualified Dentist: Being a Dental Student's Patient

Here's something: I have an unqualified dentist.

This sounds more dramatic than it is.

Basically, I'm a patient at the local dental hospital, which also happens to be a teaching hospital. So my dentist is in fact a third-year dental student.

It's best to try to avoid thinking about this fact while he's working with drills, rubber dams, and (especially) needles full of local anaesthetic - but to be honest, he's one of the best dentists I've ever had.

I'm normally terrified of the local anaesthetic injection - especially after my old (fully-qualified) dentist ballsed one up back when I was a teenager, causing so much pain and distress that it's taken me the best part of seven years to go back to the dreaded chair. But my new dentists is ace - the injections have never hurt while he's administered them.

Yesterday I had to go for an extraction (hence the booklet in the photo above). For one reason or another, I didn't have my usual dentist, but the student that saw me there was just as calming, respectful, and professional.

Honestly - I've never been happier with a dental practice.

And best of all? It's all free.
Even with the NHS absorbing a great deal of the cost, the charges for the stuff I've had done just to date would already be racking up to around £220 (and I've got another few appointments to go).

The cost at the dental school: Nada. Zilch. Nowt.
(Well, except a sandwich on the way home to eat while I feel sorry for myself after a morning in the chair.)

So you get the proud feeling of helping promising young dental students to learn their trade while getting all of your dental health care for free.

That said, you might be inclined to voice concerns about the fact that the students are, well... students. But all treatments are overseen by a tutor who is a qualified dentist. The tutor will keep an eye on the student (your dentist) while she or he administers anaesthetic, will check drill work before okaying a filling, and will generally make sure that nothing goes wrong.

The only things that might be a pain (harhar) are the fact that appointments with dental students will take longer than with qualified dentists. Also, once you're signed to a dental school, you're on your dentist's schedule - and the school can be far more awkward about rearranging times than most regular dental practices. But as long as you can be a little flexible, I've found that they can be quite reasonable. For instance, I normally see my dentist on Mondays, but in October I had to work Mondays - so my dentist put off my next appointment for a month.

So if you're

  • Not signed up with a dentist
  • Okay with your appointments taking a little longer
  • Able to be a little bit flexible
Then it might be worth looking into signing up with your local dental school. Not everyone will be eligible (they like people with some problems, so that the students have a bit of a project). But if you are, then it really is worth it.

Especially when the dental students are as ace as the ones I've seen.