About Me

Larbert, Scotland, United Kingdom

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Are they trying to annoy me?

I like traveling on trains, but the last few days have left me a bit cheesed off!

Virgin West Coast
On Thursday I was due to catch the 1903 VWC service from Birmingham - Glasgow. This was advertised as a Voyager

Upon arriving at Birmingham station at 1840 (my London Midland connection had been 15 minutes late) I went to the indicated platform (5), to see a Pendelino standing their. I tried to find a member of staff to check that this was the correct train, since the door LCD displays were not showing anything. The member of Network Rail staff just pointed to the TV screen, so hoping for the best, I got on board.

The train was a dump - empty bottles, cans, crisp bags and paper on all the tables, and most seats in standard, and crisps / bits of sandwiches under the seats and tables. The bins were overflowing.

The Train Manager came on at about 1858 to say this was the Virgin West Coast service to Glasgow, anyone not intending to travel should go to the platform etc. About 5 minutes out from Birmingham, she then announced that she would be serving complimentary tea/coffee as the shop would not be open before Preston as they had no trained staff.

Come Preston, there was a crew change, and the shop did open - albeit with no change. However, from no staff, we suddenly had 4 people sat round a table next to the shop, chatting and talking, all in VT uniforms - I assume one crew was traveling off duty to Glasgow (which is where they all got off). The Train Manager made one pass through the train, and when a passenger asked about the rubbish, she offered to get him a bin bag so he could clear it up.

First Scotrail
On Friday I went through to Edinburgh, and due to the engineering work, they are only running every half hour each way. However, my train instead of being 6-carriages (twice the normal) was only 3 and we were all squashed in at 3pm, by the time of my return at 11pm, they were running a 6 carriage train which was mostly empty.

On Saturday I had to go to Edinburgh again, and this time they canceled one train and then the following one was packed and the journey was slower than normal. then the return trip was delayed by 10 minutes due to "the number of trains trying to leave the station". Honestly, sometimes I think you couldn't make it up.

I'm starting to believe my sister when she says that once you have a car, you view trains as an annoyance, not an alternative.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas is coming....

Only one christmas present to buy...that means I have got all the other ones! I started way back in October this year, and the one I was looking for there (or the most difficult person to buy for) is the one I still haven't got. It is for my sister who retains the role in my life as being difficult to buy for - she has most things she wants, is moving into a new house soon and getting married - more than enough opportunities for present buying.

In past years I have bought her joke presents, useful presents and jokey useful presents (Green Gecko shower gel dispenser anyone??!). And I really have no idea what to buy her. I always assume the worst reactions in other people such as "What do I do with that?" "Why?" and "Thanks, it's interesting". Thus I end up thinking about what to buy them for ages then wrack myself with worry about whether they will like it, until i give it to them.

This year, me and some school friends, whom I haven't seen for between 3 months and 5 years (bear in mind we left 6th form in July 2000), are all meeting up on Christmas Eve. We have decided to do a secret santa style thing which should be fun. This added a further complexity to my christmas present buying.

Christmas Dinner
This year I will be having two Christmas Dinners - next Tuesday with Mum, Dad and my sister down at home, and one tomorrow. The one tomorrow is with a group of my former colleagues from work. Ten of us are meeting at someone's flat for a full Christmas Dinner. Somehow I got roped in to do the cooking and shopping. So today Butcher Boy and I were out buying stuff - potatoes, carrots, sprouts, custard, chocolate tart etc. Oh, and you might notice the Turkey missing from that list - that is because the shop we were in (where we all used to work) had sold out for today, so Butcher Boy (like a ninja*) was going to wait around for the delivery tonight and grab one and buy it before the delivery reached the storage chill.

*Actually when I say wait like a ninja, I do in fact mean, do his normal shift, since his job involves waiting for, then bringing in the fresh food delivery anyway.

Expect a Christmas Dinner update at the weekend!

Christmas Videos
Following the sad death of Kirsty McColl, my favourite Christmas pop song has been surviving only in recordings from the 1980's and 90's. However Youtube has recently delivered this gem of Katie Melua and the Pogues performing it. The Pogues are hardly wearing well though, and the gumminess of singing is obvious compared to the clarity of the 1980's version.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Eating a pet

Today I was over to see my Aunt & Uncle. My Mum & Dad are up to see me (and use up their A/L days before they retire next spring) and so they decided to drop in on my Aunt & Uncle and then my Uncle phoned and invited e as well.

Given the bizarreness of our family I did realise that despite no-one getting there until 4pm, we would be having Sunday lunch at 5 (it always happens). What I wasn't expecting was lunch to be one of my cousin's pets.

My cousin lives down in Somerset and until last summer he had some nice pets in the garden / field which his children loved to watch all day, eating the grass, with their fluffy coats. However, each summer one or two would disappear and be replaced by the children / lambs!

Yes, my cousin used to have a few pet sheep. And today we had one roasted for tea - it was lovely, with a nice nut stuffing made y my uncle, and with oven roasted vegetable and roast potatoes.

The meat was very tender and just fell off the bone (for Butcher Boy, it was a lamb shoulder), and was followed by home made (gluten free) raspberry tart!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dentistry is a real emergency service

Having found my NHS dentist - bizarrely in the nice middle-class West-End, this week as my appointment to get my filling replaced, and also a scale and polish (no idea why I needed that, but it was on the list of treatment!). All in all, just over £20 for 20 minutes work.

I was a bit numb all morning after the filling, but no after effects, and I can now eat ice Cream without wincing. The rest of my teeth are all fine, and the dentist only wants to see me for my check-up.

Not a bad result really, and I think it would have been even longer without a dentist visit if I hadn't been getting pain due to wearing away that filling.

Mind my advice is not to go for a filling at 9.15am on the first day of your holidays!

This set me thinking that most people only really visit a dentist when they have an emergency.... and yet some dentists make you wait days for an appointment. Why?

A trip to Edinburgh

On Wednesday, Butcher Boy and I ventured forth into the great unknown, or Edinburgh as it's known. It was an afternoon of new experiences and some trepidation.

Firstly, a trip to Monster Mash - after all my raving, would it live up to my claims. Would the sausages and Mash satisfy, or would it be a flop, and I lose any reputation I had?

After a brisk walk through the meadows at dusk, we reached monster mash - we were the only customers - not good I thought. However, the food was lovely - the Monster Sausage with Mustard mash was lovely, and topped with Monster Gravy. The gravy was thick and rich, whilst the mash was creamy, and yet still absorbed any grease from the sausage to give a nice tasty meal, which was not stodgy at all.

With an hour or more to spare before the lecture, we wandered down the bridges, and round onto George Street before paying a visit to the Standing Order, where we managed to find a table - a first in my experience. After a leisurely pint, we sorted our ties and made ourselves loo smart for the walk round to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh - the main reason for our visit.

As a Medical Student, who sins up for all sorts of ridiculous e-newsletters etc, I had signed up as an e-associate of the RCPE, and they sent out an email about their Christmas Charity Lecture - which was to be on the topic of Disaster Victim Identification, and given by Professor Sue Black from Dundee - a Forensic Anthropologist.

The lecture was interesting - combining both the politics and processes involved in setting up a victim identification capability in the UK, the training of Police Officers, and also some of the Biological aspects of how you identify someone, and what certainty can be put upon that identification. She also set this against examples of both the need for such a capability - London Bombings, Thailand Tsunami; and the UK Governments demands that the capability be able to deal with up to 9 incidents spread throughout the country occurring simultaneously.

All in all it was a very interesting lecture, and a good first trip to a 'proper' Medical event for me. Butcher boy was enjoying all the Police links, and pleased at scoring off another Police specialty he doesn't want to work in!


Age is a terrible thing. On Monday evening I was in my early twenties, and then with one swift movement of the second hand on the clock, into my late twenties, or 'almost thirty' as some people put it.

Actually my 26th Birthday went by with little fuss this year - just a meal with my sister and her fiancee, lunch with some friends and a night out with other friends (although I did have a Raspberry Mojito while sat with people drinking Appletini - it was starting to sound like a Scrubs script).

My present collection was quite unusual this year - in that I actually managed to think of things I wanted, and thus got real presents instead of vouchers and money (though I got some of that as well).

Thus my trusty (but heavy and large) 2.0Megapixel camera gets traded in for a new small sleek 7MP one, and I have a small 2 person filter coffee machine - very tasty and useful! I also got some books and Brain Putty which apparently can boost my intelligence....

Still no birthday cake though.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Depressing afternoon

Wednesday was a long afternoon. For the first time in a while, we had 4 hours of lectures (plenaries)n ina row. this is not unusual in many subjects or at old-school medical school, but for us in our FOFO teaching, it is very unusual.

The topic's for the lectures were well suited as well, especially for a wet, windy, cold, grey afternoon in December. 90 minutes on palliative care and end of life issues, 90 minutes on Lung Cancer, and 1 hour on sepsis and it's mortality and (lack of) treatment options.

In the middle of the Lung Cancer lecture, the rain was so heavy, that the thundering of the rain on the lecture theatre roof was so loud that the lecturer (who was using the microphone) had to stop as no-one could hear her!

The lecturers all made a good fist of it, and the afternoon passed quickly, but we all elft witha feeling of what a great way to go for christmas and thinking of medicine in such terms. it is justa fluke of staff availability and lecture timing, but was still not the best end to term.

The sepsis lecturer was one of the people who had taken me for a day in intensive care on my sumemr elective (see Elective Day 4)

So I went to meet Butcher Boy at the Grad Club, and had a rather tasty Steak Pie and coffee, before heading home to study more on Lung Cancer for Thursday's final PBL session of term.

Except it wasn't. The tutor had clinical commitments and couldn't find any cover, so the session was cancelled.


Up until now, lectures and FRS' etc have taken place in one of 4 buildings on campus and any offsite activities have had nice clear instructions on where to go.

However (you knew that was coming)

Today we had a FRS moved to the X Lecture theatre, Y Hospital. Now this hospital is nice and easy to get to, but finding the X lecture theatre was harder. Faculty's advice was that it was in the X department. Finding this department required some jugging on University maps, hospital maps pinned to the wall outside the main entrance etc. Then when we got to the building, no one seemed to know which lecture theatre we were talking about. The FRS wasn't in subject X, and thus the staff didn't even know the facilitator we were talking about.

Faculty had also changed the timings of this FRS, from Tuesday 9-12, to Tuesday 9-10.30, to Friday 9-10.30, to Friday 9.30-11. So all in all, no tutorial for me today as I couldn't find it. A failure in the timing, location and day I guess.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A strange weekend

This weekend has been quite odd. I was out to see some people from work on Friday which was a strange night which went kinda wrong but then recovered. I spent Saturday doing a wee bit on Uni work then pottering around at home - cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry etc. Then today I found the huge pile of ironing and managing a long lie-in, did my nice Anatomy Colouring-Book and stuff.

I'm really not looking forward to Uni tomorrow as despite sleeping lots and drinking lots of water this weekend I feel tired and dehydrated!