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Monday, 24 December 2012

This is the day

To you all, a very merry Christmas! May we remember what this day is really about whilst we enjoy getting lost in the festivities.

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Perfect Harmony

In Elf, Buddy says, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." He is one clever "elf"!
You can put out all the Christmas decorations you want, do all the Christmas shopping and bake a million mince pies and still nothing will alter my spirits so drastically as one simple piece of music.

I love most kinds of Christmas music. My favourite "pop" style Christmas music at the moment is Michael Buble's album. I bought it for my parents last year and we would listen to it on all the long journeys to and from the hospital. I dreaded those journeys, particularly the ones going back, but that CD got me through them. I'm also a fan of the classic Christmas songs and naturally can't help but love a little Bieber "Under the Mistletoe" magic. All of those songs are the kind that will get me dancing around the house and getting excited about the more commercial side of Christmas.

However, I am also a practicing Christian and for me, this time of year still has a very meaningful feel. We are celebrating the birth of a man who will take all the sin of the world (and there is a lot of it!) onto his shoulders, bear it for us and eventually die so that we may be reunited with God in heaven. We are celebrating the fact that God is giving us his only son. Now, we know that God will eventually have to sacrifice that son to save mankind. At the time people did not have any idea that this would happen but still they knew that a baby, who it had been foretold would save humanity and bring us closer to God, was to be born. They knew how special it was. Shepherds and Magi travelled miles across wasted lands after angels told them of the news. Animals in the stable bowed down before this newborn baby. This was the greatest gift that could ever and will ever be given to anyone which is why we celebrate today. I find that the Christmas carols we sing are a brilliant way to spread festive cheer whilst reminding us why it is that we are so overjoyed. There is nothing quite like the majestic chords of O Come All Ye Faithful or the more somber but uplifting tones of a particular favourite of mine "O Come O Come Emmanuel". Add to that a heavenly descant and the candlelit atmosphere of a small village church and you experience a whole new aspect of Christmas. This evening I was very proud o sing the solo first verse of "Once In Royal David's City" to open our parish church's service of carols and lessons.My Dad and I have been singing with the church choir for a little while now and it is something we both love so it was an absolute honour to be asked to sing this. We also sung many pieces including John Rutter's Candlelight Carol. This is a beautiful, more modern, choral piece that is definitely worth a look on Youtube.

I am not sure whether I will post again before Christmas so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for a wonderful, spiritual Christmas.May the Lord bless you and your families at this magical time of year and ,may the Christmas music blast out with joy all through your houses.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I can see the future...

I'm going to be a doctor. I've been saying something similar to that for rather a while now because medicine has been my dream for a long time. The main difference was this:

"I want to be a doctor"

See the subtle difference there? Yes ladies and gents, you know what that means! I got my first university offer yesterday and it's from my second choice Birmingham! I am so over the moon right now that I can't even describe it. For a long, long time I've had this huge uncertainty about my future hanging over my head, particularly with everything that happened last year, and anyone who knows me, knows how well I deal (or don't) with uncertainty! It feels like so many little pieces have slotted into place. Birmingham may be my second choice but it doesn't matter because a) although I REALLY love Cambridge, I also really love Birmingham and b) I'm going to be a doctor and I don't care where I do it! That doesn't mean I'm not still crossing my fingers till they break for Cambridge to come through but the world has been mostly taken off my shoulders!

I wasn't too sure, if I'm honest, how the Birmingham interview had gone (I'm even less sure about the Cambridge one!) especially as it was all over so fast but I guess it went well enough which is a confidence boost in itself. All the offer is conditional on now is some injections (most of which I've had) a criminal records check and a few forms....so basically unconditional!

I think my family are pretty relieved too! I'm not sure they could put up with me for another year!

I just have to say it one more time because it keeps hitting me:

I'M GOING TO BE A DOCTOR!!!!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Ice Princess


So I have once again been slacking from the world of work and spending some time up in Cambridge with my sister. Due to Cambridge's short terms (term ends on Thursday!) Christmas has already arrived there. It is a time of year fondly known by students as Bridgemas.

On Friday I travelled up with my mum and me, my sister, my parents, my godparents and their son all went to Formal Hall. It was a very nice evening, a much needed catch up, that ended with a quick drink in the college bar. On Saturday, they had all left and C and I went to brunch with some friends at Murray Edwards (our Mum's old college although in her day it was still New Hall). We then went to the Grafton Centre and did some Christmas shopping and went to the cinema to see Nativity 2. It was a good laugh, if not the most high-brow or believable film! On Sunday after brunch in her college we did something rather exciting (it's coming further down, don't worry!) before heading back to the Grafton to finish off a bit of shopping. In the evening we went to the College Advent service, which was a calm, reflective service with beautiful readings, music from the choir and some nice cheerful carols. We followed this by going to Formal Hall where, as she had done on Friday, one of C's friends read grace (and very well, I might add!) This was followed by me introducing C to a Christmas film she had never seen before: Elf! The next day C had a 9am lecture which I remained in bed for and then we both went to her 12 o'clock lecture on Fungal Infections...actually very interesting although I came out diagnosing myself with allsorts (apparently it's a common med student thing!) In the afternoon I met up with my good friend Abi for coffee and then I went to a concert C was playing and singing in before we both headed to the university carol concert. Sadly on the Tuesday I had to come home, but not before we tried out the new Sri Lankan restaurant "Ceylon Cinnamon". Let me tell you, it was pure and utter heaven. uckily we had that because me and Mum's 1.5 hour journey home that afternoon turned into an almost 6 hour one...fun!

So the rather exciting event that occurred on Sunday was...C and I went ice skating! I'm not sure if I've mentioned on here before, but C is in a wheelchair so ice skating has not really been one of her recent activities. However, on Parker's Piece each winter there is a temporary ice rink set up so we went down to investigate and would you know, you can take a (manual) wheelchair on! I donned my skates and tentatively pushed C onto the ice... At first, I won't lie, it was tricky. I fell victim to Newton's Third Law of every force having an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, when I attempted to push the wheelchair forwards, I just slid backwards. I soon worked out however, that if I skated with my feet turned out to the sides (thank goodness for all that ballet!) I got enough grip to actually move her. Once I had that down, we were off and at quite considerable speeds. Having the wheelchair was actually quite nice...you know you see kids with those penguins that they hold onto to (attempt to) stay on their feet? It was like having one of those but in disguise! I didn't fall over once, which I normally do because I have small issues with being a little too fearless of getting hurt! It was quite tiring and I actually got hot! I skated round a few times on my own too and C even had a go at wheeling herself around! It was a really really fun activity to do. To anyone who is unsure of taking a wheelchair on the ice, do it! It is actually surprisingly easy and is great fun.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I spy mince pies!

Christmas season has arrived in the Daboo household with the traditional making of mince pies! It's something we do every year, in fact last year it was one of the first things I did when I was allowed out of hospital for a day. We generally have the Christmas music baring in the background whilst me and Mum stand up to our elbows in pastry.

This year, along with our traditional mince-pie-sized mince pies, we made some mini mince tarts with some new tools mum got from a Pampered Chef party. We used this mini-muffin pan:
Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan and this mini-tart shaper: Mini-Tart Shaper
They worked really well and are a great (not too scary!) bitesized festive snack.
Here are the mini tarts as they went into the oven:



And here are the finished products:



Obviously the recipe is a highly-secret, highly-classified piece of information...but I'm going to be nice and make an exception for my wonderful readers! So here we go...

World-famous Daboo Mince Pies
Makes around 24 mince pies
Ingredients
8oz plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
4oz butter
1oz caster sugar
1/2 beaten egg (or 1 beaten egg yolk mixed with a little water)
Mincemeat (roughly one 400g jar)

Method

  1. Sieve flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter in small cubes and rub the butter into the flour until it is a similar consistency to breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the caster sugar.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the beaten egg. Stir until the mixture clings together, adding very small amounts of water as necessary. Make sure you don't add too much as it will reach the right point very suddenly and any more will make the mixture too sticky.
  5. Set the dough aside to rest, covering the bowl with a plate, whilst you lightly dust your surface with plain flour,grease your cupcake pan and preheat your oven to 200°C/180°fan.
  6. Take out the dough and knead it gently. You want to feel as though you are gently guiding the edges of the pastry into the middle.
  7. Lightly dust your rolling pin with flour and start rolling your dough. Always roll away from you and then back towards you, never sideways. Roll about 3 times backwards and forwards and then gently rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this until your dough is a couple of mm thick.
  8. Take two cookie cutters, one large and one slightly smaller, preferably with "frilly" edges. Cut out equal numbers of large and small circles (you can pick up the "scraps" of dough and knead and roll them again to get more).
  9. Place the large circles gently into the wells in your cupcake pan.
  10. Take a teaspoon and put a small amount of mincemeat into each one. Take care not too overfill them or they will leak when you cook them!
  11. Take a small circle and dampen a finger with water. Run it around the rim of the small circle and one of the large circles and then place the small circle as a lid on your mince pie, squeezing the two circles gently together all the way around the edge.
  12. Take a fork and gently make one set of small holes in the top of each mince pie. (This lets any steam out and stops them bursting in the oven.) Brush the tops with water and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
  13. Pace the tray on the middle shelf of the oven for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out when they are just turning golden brown. Take them out of the pan immediately (we find using a curved grapefruit knife makes this very quick and easy) and set them on a wire cooling rack.
Best served warm with some brandy butter or a nice scoop of the trusty old vanilla ice cream!

Brum brum brum

I had my interview for Medicine at Birmingham University yesterday. It was a new system called the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about it as I was one of the first to be interviewed so I don't want to give it all away to those still waiting. Here is a bit of information from the website:


Interviews are organised in a multiple mini-interview format. You will participate in four separate, short interviews, lasting 6mins each. This will allow you to start afresh at each mini-interview. A range of your personal attributes relevant to studying medicine will be assessed by means of different tasks. Interview stations are designed to assess aspects such as: motivation for medicine; communication; self-insight; ethical reasoning; scientific understanding and interpretation.
The four stations will be:
Data Interpretation: You will be presented with the findings of a study and asked to interpret and discuss these.
Motivation and Insight into Medicine: You will be asked to discuss specific aspects of your work experience.
Dealing with personal and ethical challenges: Through thinking about your own experiences and an ethical problem, you have the opportunity to demonstrate personal qualities important for coping in a demanding career.
Interactive Task: This is a role-play station. You will be expected to achieve a task through negotiation with the role-player (who will be a medicine student).
The system was intense and felt a bit like speed-dating on Red Bull! The beginning and end of each 6 minutes was signaled by a whistle in the corridor and we had two minutes outside of the rooms to read information for the next one. The interviewers had no idea about who we were. They didn't know our names let alone what was on our UCAS/personal statements. A lot of people found the role-play the hardest and while that was quite pressured, I actually found the personal and ethical challenges the hardest.
Overall I think it went ok. I didn't make any diabolical mistakes that made me flounder around which was good. It is hard to tell how you've done so I'll just have to wait for the results.
I got my BMAT results today and unfortunately I didn't do so great in that but never mind. What's done is done!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Winter Warmer

Do you know something I am loving at the moment? Warming winter spices...
I've been having Copella Winter Warmer juice hot at breakfast, gingerbread lattes at work, cinnamon and nutmeg rice pudding and cinnamon candles at bathtime. 
They're just so comforting, spicy and ... I can't think of a word other than warm.
Anyone who knows me will know that I love warmth. In the winter time my favourite evenings are the ones spent in front of the fire, occasionally watching the tv, but mostly watching the flames licking up and hearing the hiss and crackle from a spectacle that seems so alive. I love hats and scarves and gloves. Knitwear is my best friend. Big cosy jumpers and thick woolen socks. 
Bonfire night is one of my favourite of the year. This year my parents and I went to the Woking Fireworks and had a great time. I went on the dodgems with mum, tried hot chestnuts, ate a toffee apple and gazed in wonder at the colourful explosions in the sky. It was a James Bond theme and it always amazes me how they can time the fireworks with the music. There is a serious business in firework choreography.
At work we have introduced the red cups along with the winter drinks and winter food. It's all very festive and is really getting me in the Christmas mood-although if you ask me it's a liiiiitttle early for that! I smell the eggnog, gingerbread and nutmeg spices all day and it just makes me so happy.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Per-omise

Oops, wrote this a while ago but forgot to publish! Here goes:

So my recent life has been taken up by three things: work (which I have touched on and doesn't really change so I'm not going to talk lots about it today, dancing and Brownies.

In dancing, alongside my now-regular grade and technique classes, I was drafted into a tap troupe that my dance school had done in a couple of shows. It had been entered into the Tudor Rose dance festival (a preliminary round of the All England dance competition) which had an upper age limit of 21, meaning two girls couldn't do it. I happened to be there on a day when my dance teacher had been planning to redo it and was asked to step in. I had three rehearsals before the festival, over three weeks. It was intense and I had to pick it up quite quickly which I was a little out of practice at, but I spent a lot of time practicing and by the final rehearsal was getting the hang of it.
The festival came around on Sunday and as it was my first competition in so long, both of my parents came along to watch. We all did ourselves up in our full stage makeup (think orange faces, false eyelashes and bright red lipstick) and donned our pretty purple and black tap dresses. Our hair was all french-plaited into a bun so that we looked as similar as possible. We practiced a few times in the changing room before being called down to the stage. We waited in a little side room and had a quick pep talk. And then it was our turn.
It went brilliantly and I had an absolute blast. I am quite definitely readdicted. We came 2nd with 86 marks, qualifying for the next round. I came out of it buzzing!

In Brownies, I turned up to our meeting, completely unaware of what was going to happen apart from the fact that I was going to make my promise as a leader. The Adventure On girls had planned my promise celebration all by themselves and it was a complete surprise to me. Once they had finished making their Halloween wreaths, the celebration began with beautiful cupcakes with trefoils, brownie flowers and hearts on them. Then we had a big game of pass the parcel, with each brownie opening a layer and then me getting the final layer. The prize was a gorgeous scrapbook that they'd put together for me with lots of messages and drawings. I almost cried right there, it was so so sweet. We then got into the circle and I was taken up, in the same way that new Brownies are, to make my promise. We all saluted and I recited the words, feeling very proud to become a leader for such an amazing bunch of girls. I love Brownies because of the feeling I get when I see the girls smiling or laughing or even wiping away tears and feeling a bit better. Knowing that I've given such wonderful, creative, kind little girls a good time is so rewarding and so much fun for me too!

I apologize about the lack of recent posts but I'd rather post meaningful, interesting things not quite as often than post pointless ramblings every day! I just hope the interesting things get a bit more frequent!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Fits and Giggles

I deliberately decided to leave Sunday afternoon/evening out of my previous post. INTOPS finished after lunch on Sunday and from there C and I got the train to Paddington and then a cab to a hotel in...Southwark.

For a while now, C has been holding a "surprise" over my head and I had absolutely NO idea what it was. All I knew was that we would be spending Sunday night in the hotel and then I would head home on Monday morning. So after a brief clothes change at the hotel, C and I set off for Southwark Tube Station. The walk should only have taken 5 minutes but it took a little longer because Poppy the electric wheelchair has been poorly lately and has been going VERY slowly (she is all better now and zooming along once more!) Once there, I proceeded to put on a blindfold (a piece of material that had been tied round the pillows!) and shove my ipod on full volume. With Demi Lovato blaring in my ears, C pulled me onto her lap and drove us...

It was...interesting...for me. I would be surprised by the unexpected jolt of a lift and trying to remain balanced (even when sitting) on the tube with no vision is...tricky.

We arrived at our destination after a few challenges. I was still blind and deaf but suddenly my sense of smell was inundated with...Mexican. At this point I was allowed to remove my blindfold and earphones to discover...we were in a restaurant at the O2 Arena. I still had no clue why...

C turned me round to face a big screen when up flashed...Michael McIntyre's face. I freaked out and laughed cried screamed for a good 5 minutes. I couldn't believe we were actually going to see him in real life. It was his first stand-up show for three years and boy had I missed him!

It turned out that the restaurant we wanted to go to had too long a queue so we ended up in a buffet restaurant inside the arena called...Jimmy's! (My Dad's name!) It was lovely although we came out stuffed to bursting. We then hurried to our seats (which we had to swap to wheelchair accessible ones when we were inside- they turned out to be much better!) and waited in anticipation.

The two funniest hours of my life then followed. I did not stop laughing once. That man is a genius.

I won't give too much away because his DVD of the show is coming out in November but I will say, he made some jokes about a hotel room which left C and I giggling randomly throughout the evening as we spotted things around our room that brought back snippets.

My sister knows me too well because it had to be one of the best nights of my life. I had been looking forward to my "surprise" for ages and when I found out what it was, it exceeded all expectations I could possibly have had. I am so thankful for my ammazing sister and her incredible kindness and generosity.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Weekend Schmeekend

Most people assume that Saturday and Sunday are slightly more relaxing than the average Monday-Friday. Not for everyone, I agree, but certainly for me, weekends are generally days to chill and enjoy. Except for the weekend just gone...

On Friday, I set off on the train to Bristol, where Caroline and I would be attending INTOPS (INTernational OPportunities). It is a selection/information weekend for Girlguiding Members, aged 17-30. And it is, above all else, a challenge.

It is designed to push you to your limits, make you feel uncomfortable, exhaust you and see how you respond. I am not allowed to divulge too much so that the weekend is kept as a surprise for people who may go in the future but it was quite the experience! There were some very good times but there were also some pretty not-so-good times.

In terms of my own experience, I found it particularly hard due to my current mental state (which, don't get me wrong, is far far better than it was a couple of months ago but is still nowhere close to the girl I used to be). However, throughout the weekend, I grew in confidence, whether it was initiating conversation or standing up and giving a presentation. I definitely enjoyed myself much more towards the end of the weekend!


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Working girl...

...not like that you dirty-minded people!

That title is referring to the fact that this has been what I would call my first full-time week at Starbucks (I've had odd shifts but never on consecutive days). Add to that the fact that it was Freshers Week and you may be able to imagine my current state of exhaustion!

The sudden increase of customers has, however, greatly improved my barista-ing skills. I am now pretty efficient with the beverage routine (what order to steam milk, cue espressos and finish drinks in when you have a big, long, never-ending queue of drinks), know where almost everything is on the till and know how to clean out and rebrew the machines. I would now happily call myself a barista. Don't get me wrong, there is still an awful lot to learn but I have got the basics down pretty well.

A new experience this week has been working in the Starbucks in GSA, down at the bottom of the campus. This is great fun, although the time drags a little more as it is much less busy. It's pretty entertaining because the lobby is filled with performing arts students who will be practicing dramatic scenes and dances or randomly break out into song. There are some really great, if slightly eccentric, characters and it is fun to be able to get to know the customers a little better.

A new love of mine is making frappuccinos. They are just so enjoyable to make. I'm looking forward to next week as we're bringing in two new flavours: Spiced Pumpkin Latte, which is coming to the UK for the first time, and Salted Caramel Mocha. I am now feeling very confident in what I am doing and love the rush I get when it's busy and I'm under pressure to make things!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

To believe or not to believe...

Do you know what? I really need to start having some confidence in myself. But honestly, it seems that no matter what results I achieve, or how many people tell me I've done well, I still keep thinking that everything was down to luck and that someday people are going to wake up and see that I'm a massive fraud. I know people get annoyed (because I was always someone who did) when people say "Oh no, I'm rubbish at that," when really they have excellent results and always seem to do well. I firmly believe that when someone has done really well in something, they need to think, "Actually, I did great in that," politely say thank you and be humble but proud. And I do that. I accept that I have done well in things. I don't deny it when someone says I've done brilliantly in something. I just can't help but think that it's all fluke and one day the world is going to come crashing down on me and I'll have nothing. Meet my irrational brain...

So what sparked this ramble? Well today I sat the UK Clinical Aptitude Test for the second time (I sat it last year). Lots of medical schools require it, in my case it is for Southampton. I was panicking leading up to this for a couple of reasons. 1. I hadn't had a chance to do any practice until yesterday (story of my life) 2. I was very worried that I was going to do worse than last year. Perhaps if I had just been a bit unprepared and was sitting it for the first time and I hadn't quite performed to my full ability, I'd be a little upset but not drastically. However, because I knew how well I'd done last year, I knew that if I did worse this year I would feel like a lazy piece of rubbish who just didn't work hard enough. So it was a little tense.

You get handed your results as soon as you come out which I think is quite a blessing. There's no time to sit mulling it over and fretting.

Thankfully, I had improved on last year. The test is split into four sections. Each is marked out of 900 and the average medical student achieves 600.
My scores last year were:
Verbal Reasoning 690
Abstract Reasoning 690
Quantitative Reasoning 780
Decision Analysis 670
Average 707.5

This year:

Verbal Reasoning 750
Abstract Reasoning 720
Quantitative Reasoning 770
Decision Analysis 680
Average 730

I am pretty darn pleased with my results. I know they are above average and impressive. And yet I still can't shake this feeling that I don't really deserve them and that it was luck.

Maybe after the whole uni application process is over I'll have a little more belief in myself.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Dancing through life

I had my first ballet class since before summer yesterday and, as always, had a blast. So I thought I would tell you a bit about my dancing history seeing as it is something I love so much.

I started dancing when I was three years old after seeing my sister do it for a couple of years and always wanting to join in. I have always gone to The Joanna School of Dance and it is one of my favourite places in the world. I started off with ballet before quickly adding tap and modern. I took exams right from the start and always did pretty well. I got my first competition dance when I was six. It was a modern solo to a song from Aladdin and it was adorable and great fun. At first I didn't win any medals but I was hooked on competing. Gradually I got more and more dances. Most were solos but I also had various duets, trios and troupes over the years. Along the way I started picking up medals and trophies. I just loved being on stage and it showed in all of my dances.



At the studio I took endless amounts of classes and also took part in the biannual extravaganza shows. At one point I was going to dancing every single day of the week. Through my dance school I got parts in big stage productions and lots of audition opportunities that have given me a great amount of life experience.

As I got older and school life got more intense I cut down on the numbers of hours I was dancing, focusing on my technique classes. There was still plenty to focus on as I was always working toward high level exams.

Obviously and very sadly I had to take a break from dancing at the start of my recovery whilst I was in hospital. I have been gradually been easing back into it, not wanting to take on too much whilst doing those little things called A Levels.

But today I went in and had a lovely chat with my dance teacher and signed up for loads of classes. I am very excited to say the least. I can't wait to get back into it regularly and have it as something that I do each week. I am also looking forward to getting some of my flexibility back and improving my technique (my turnout keeps going MIA in ballet!) But most of all I can't wait to get back into seeing my friends regularly and being a part of the awesome, if slightly dysfunctional, family that is JSD.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rollercoaster

Lately the posts have been few and far between because my life has been pretty up and down...and quite hectic with it.

I'll start with the bad bits because I like to end on a happy note (basically I want my life to be a fairy tale!) The main bad thing is I've been struggling a bit with my eating disorder and the thoughts that it brings. Many people think that an eating disorder affects you when you have food put in front of you but not at any other time. This is so wrong. It can get into every waking thought you have. For a long time now it has been riding on my shoulders. I go through good patches where I can drown it out a bit and ignore it for a while, but it is always there, ready to pounce. Whenever I'm tired, upset, or sometimes for no apparent reason, it will shout and shout and I can't think about anything else. If I was left alone I honestly believe that I would be able to go for several days just walking around listening to those thoughts and doing nothing else. Luckily, I am not left alone and I have amazing people who can reach into the deafening darkness and drag me upwards for a bit. The thoughts are still shouting but the love and support is fighting against it, shouting too. Of course that makes everything pretty noisy and there are a lot of conflicting emotions but it is better to be confused than to be completely ruled by my eating disorder.

I suppose one of the reasons I have been finding things hard is because a lot of my friends are about to go off to university and start the next chapter of their lives. While I know that my gap year is going to be very exciting and will bring new and unforgettable experiences, I feel very insecure and scared when I think about the fact that I have no solid plans for when that is all over. I'm hoping I will feel slightly better once I have my UCAS form in...although then I'll be waiting on interviews. Does it ever end? Next Wednesday I have the UKCAT test which I did last year but have to redo. Then I just have to sort my personal statement and enter all my grades and qualifications.

So the good stuff...

I just got back from spending a week in Gran Canaria with my friends. It was amazing! We were staying in a gorgeous penthouse with a massive balcony and every modcon. We spent most of our days sunbathing by the pools or on the beach although we did do lots of activities. We did aquafit and aquazumba, played bingo, played Europe's largest minigolf course, drove jetskis and pedaloes and went on a banana boat. We enjoyed lots of ice creams and cocktails (particularly during happy hour!) and also got some wicked tans!

In the evenings we did things ranging from trying out the clubs and bars in Puerto Rico until the early hours, to having girly movie nights in, to me and Abi joining in with the minidisco!

It was an amazing week with so many good memories.

When I got home one of the first things I did was attend our brownie unit for the first time in my role as a leader in training. Up till now I have just been an occasional helper but from now I am going to be doing it regularly. I love the girls and it really helps me with my confidence.

I am in the process of redecorating my room and tomorrow the electrician I coming in to put a socket in the wall by my desk (after 9 years of my mum saying we'd do it!)

I had my first appointment with the adult eating disorders service after moving over from CAMHS and it was a pretty positive experience. It definitely sounds like a better fit for me with a lot more choice and responsibility in my treatment. I'm looking forward to getting to know the team better and building a good relationship with them.

So there are goods and bads and MAJOR ups an downs but I'm pushing through and I'm so so lucky to have the love and support of my friends and family.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Can I get you anything else with that?

I am a very good sharer...except when it comes to computers, as I have discovered over the past couple of days! I have become very accustomed to having my own laptop so when it finally got to the stage where
I needed a replacement (it would shut down on me for no apparent reason roughly every five minutes!) I didn't realise how hard these couple of days would be. Having to wait until the computer's free and not just being able to check Facebook when I want or go on Youtube because the main computer's speakers don't work has been hard...very hard. It's kind of sad how lost I am without technology! I am hoping that Gap Year travels may take away from that!

So the biggest news in my life was that I had my first shift in Starbucks...and it was so fun! Seriously, I don't think I could have picked a better job (minus the whole surgeon thing which requires a little more training!) My colleagues are all great fun  and very accommodating to my newbie status. There was no anger or trouble when I got things wrong, which surprised me a little, I guess partly because of my relatively high-pressured schooling. By the end of my four hour shifts, I knew how to work the till, had been round cleaning the cafe and put the dishwasher on twice, had learnt how to "cupmark" and had made numerous drinks from your classic lattes and cappuccinos to the Extra Hot Skinny Wet Flat White to the fun frappuccinos! Luckily as the store is on a university campus and it is not term time, it was not too busy so was a perfect environment for me to learn in. I have another shift this week (I have only had a couple because it is not busy and I'm going away for a week at the beginning of September) and I am very excited!

In other news, me and Dad have started going to church choir and had our first service as members this morning. It was a success although I did manage to throw up all over the church steps. Needless to say I spent most of today in bed!


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Result! (s)

So Thursday came around. It was the most anticipated, feared, important, intimidating day I've had in a long time ever! It was A Level results day.

Given how much school I had missed this year and that even when I was in, I had not been in a great state of mind and half the time had been drugged up with pills that made me fall asleep at 10am, we did not know what to expect. In my mocks I had got Ds and Es although I had miraculously managed to scrape a B in Biology. Since then (February) I had worked my butt off, having extra sessions with teachers and generally working and revising like I never had before. I have no doubt that if I'd worked that hard after completing a normal year at school, I would have got full marks in everything. But then if I'd had a normal year, I wouldn't have felt the need to prove people wrong. You see inside of me there is a part that just has to go above and beyond people's expectations of me. To achieve targets is just boring. I want to smash them! Which is probably part of the reason I developed an eating disorder- the combination of searching or perfection and wanting to prove that actually I could go x days without food or I could lose x kgs. Recently as part of my recovery, I've been searching for better outlets to display my determination in and my schoolwork was one of them (another is my tidiness- I used to be so messy and disorganised, now I am as far from that as you can imagine!) I cannot get rid of these traits, they are a part of me and my personality. So I must ind a way to express them that is not self-destructive! Perhaps I can prove people wrong by beating this thing...

So anyway, back to results day. I had been waking up the wrong way round in bed for several days and generally just not sleeping. I was grouchy, particularly on the morning of results day (sorry Mum and Dad!) and basically just very stressed. The results I got would determine my future, particularly my gap year. They would determine whether I would be able to go travelling or would have to stay and repeat the year of school. I was also pretty sure they would also determine whether I would stay on the road to recovery. A voice in my head was saying that if my results were bad (and I'm not sure what qualifies as bad- that wasnt explicit) I would never eat again because "what would be the point?", my life would be over. Of course in hindsight, I can see that that was a little extreme but that was anorexia trying to cling on to me and that is the kind of irrational thoughts it blinds me with.

We got to school and I went straight into the dining hall, to the desk where the envelopes were being handed out. I opened it straight away with Mum and Dad by my side. I didn't see any point in taking my time about it, the results weren't going to change. My hands shook as I tried to free the papers from the envelope and I saw...

2 A*s and 2As!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was so overwhelmed that I burst in to tears. The emotion was just so strong. There was a huge sense of relief, accomplishment and pride. I had actually pulled it out of the bag.

After pulling myself together a bit I talked to some of my teachers who were all thrilled. No one had been sure of what I was capable of and, if I say so myself which I do because I'm rightly proud, I had done incredibly! The A*s were in Biology and... Maths(I know, I'll never live that one down!) and the As were in Chemistry and Physics.

With a huge weight off my shoulders, I enjoyed the breakfast school had provided with Mum and Dad (who I think were also extremely relieved!) I also had my picture taken for the local newspaper with some of my friends.

Cheesy as it sounds I just want to thank all my teachers, my family and friends who have encouraged, pushed and guided me through these hard times and helped me achieve the best I could ever hope for. These results are life changing for me.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Minding matters

Quick update on the foot: It continues to heal well (although I haven't taken the dressings off yet so I could be wrong!) and isn't giving me too much pain. I am very hopeful that removing the plate sorted out the problem.

My week has been occupied with babysitting, or as my 10-year-old victim cousin A would prefer me to say, childminding. Actually I'm not sure she'd even agree to that term...we've been "hanging out".

We watched the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics together and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. She crashed half way through...to be fair it was late. I sat back, enjoying all the music and spectaculars, with her warm head in my lap. My favourite musical parts had to be the Spice Girls (just because I love them and they define my childhood), One Direction (swoon) and Jessie J singing with Queen. Unsurprisingly, I cried when they extinguished the flame, screamed when I saw a phoenix, screamed even harder when I saw Darcey Bussell on that phoenix and generally got far too overexcited whenever the camera went near where my parents were sat. All in all, a great night.

Whilst at home, A and I did all sorts, including baking gluten-free cupcakes, making sandart pictures, watching films, doing some teabag folding and making jelly. On Tuesday we got the train up to London and took the tube to South Kensington to see Caroline. After endless questions about what would happen if the Thames leaked into the underground which I gave up trying to answer honestly, we arrived and did a little orienteering to find the hospital. Cari, A and I went out for lunch to a lovely restaurant Riccardo's before stopping off for a spot of Italian Gelato (peanut butter and caramel flavours for me!) We then walked to the Science Museum which is one of my unashamedly geeky favourite places in the world. We only had a few hours there and I could literally spend weeks in there and still be content but we did manage to visit the Web Lab and the Launchpad, two interactive and highly fun zones.

It was a great few days but sadly it has come to an end and I am now sitting up, avoiding going to bed because tomorrow is my results day and I'm just a tad nervous. I dread to think what will happen if my mind is not kept busy so for now, sleep looks to be out of the question!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sporting chance

As predicted, the last week or so of my life has been COMPLETELY taken over by the Olympics! I won't go into too much detail (because I could literally talk for hours about all the sporting in general let alone the incredible experiences I have had!) but let me just say it has all been absolutely incredible! I have been to see the Gymnastics Women's Team Final, the athletics, the final day of the swimming and the rowing at Eton Dorney. I feel so lucky and privileged to have seen the things I have. The Olympic park and all the venues are amazing, the sport as always is exciting and thrilling. I think London has really pulled off a cracker!

Supporting Team GB's gymnasts
Today I am going in to hospital for a second operation on my foot, this time to remove the plate they put in last August. I had some nasty effects from the anaesthetic last time but I'm hoping that this time it won't be so bad as I am treating my body much better. Last time I was only just underweight according to my BMI but I had not eaten a decent meal in months and my body was suffering. Fingers crossed this time my body is better equipped to deal with the drugs.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Arty Farty

Serious blog neglect has occurred. To be fair I have been on Guide camp for the past week with no internet but I will admit, I did mean to do a post about my holiday in Devon before I left...and I didn't...oops.

So I went to The Manor House Hotel in Okehampton, Devon with my mum, sister, Grandma and Grandad. Mum was already down in Devon and Gma and Gdad were driving down so Cari and I got up early on the Sunday (yes this was the day straight after Guilfest!) and caught trains from Woking to Exeter to Okehampton. Predictably, I slept most of the way!

We stayed from Sunday to Friday. The Manor House Hotel is a sports and crafts hotel and is amazing fun! Here are some things I got up to:
Holding an owl in falconry

Pottery transfers

Bisque painting (recognise the car?)
Woodwork
Candle making- the one on the right was made from a pre-made white candle, the one on the left was started from scratch with just the wick


Rifle shooting



Friday, 20 July 2012

Mud glorious mud!

Sorry for the lack of recent posts but I am on holiday! More on that to come!

Last weekend Cari and I spent the day at Guilfest. It is a big musical festival in Guildford and this year we were particularly excited to see Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd and Tim Minchin.

We arrived by train, with the torrential rain stopping just as we arrived. We went to Stoke Park, where the festival is held and the closer we got to the main entrance, the deeper the mud got. It was like soup, watery and sloshy and pretty soon we were covered. We got in quickly and had a look around before stopping at one of the many (and I mean many) food stands to get lunch. We ended up choosing some Thai noodles (vegi for me and chicken for C) but it took a while to choose as there was everything from Indian to Foot Long Hot Dogs to Roast served in a giant Yorkshire pud! Then followed cake in the vintage tent, fun making superhero capes in the Kids' Zone, checking out the disabled platforms at the Main Stage and the Good Time Guide Stage (nice and spacious with a great view!), ice creams and massages at the Eden People tent.

We arrived at the platform in plenty of time to see Cher Lloyd but due to people getting bogged down in the mud the disabled platform was completely full! We waited until some people came off and then gradually worked our way forward on the platform as people left. Eventually we had a good view! Cher was good, very entertaining and lots of fun.

We went and saw Caroline's friends at the St John's Ambulance Station, had a yummy dinner of organic salads and ice cream and then went and saw Tim Minchin. He was absolutely hilarious as always! We expected to see Tulisa on the main stage but apparently she was ill. Finally it was time for the one we'd all been waiting for...Olly Murs! We huddled in the rain, dancing along and screaming at the top of our voices.

We got home around 1.00am and I spent the next 45 minutes or so cleaning the caked mud off of the wheelchair. In the end I resorted to using the hose with the chair on our front porch. After all that it still wasn't anywhere near clean but was a right sight better than it had been!

It was an amazing afternoon/evening and I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Having a ball

On Saturday evening we had our Leavers' Ball. This is held at school and started off with a champagne reception for us and our parents. Normally this part is held out in a beautiful area of school called the Rose Garden but as the weather was very unpredictable this year and it was raining on and off, it was held in the Upper Atrium of the new Anniversary Halls.

In the afternoon I went to the hairdressers with my mum to get my updo done. I felt like an absolute princess.  My dress was bought and altered at Maureen's in Cranleigh and I absolutely love it.

When we stepped out of our taxi at school there were professional photographers there to snap us looking pretty. I had a picture on my own and then with my parents. We all mingled at the reception, darting outside to take lots of pictures whenever the rain held off long enough. We had a traditional group photograph with all the girls, parents and teachers, outside before the parents got in minibuses and headed off to a ball that had been organised for them by some parents.


Meanwhile all the girls and teachers headed into the dining hall which had been transformed. Our Ball Committee had decided upon an Enchanted Fairytale theme and had beautifully decked out the hall with flowers, tealights in jamjars, and little butterflies. The entrances were gorgeous arches of flowers with little toadstools all around them.
All of the tables had enchanted names, I was on Leprachaun. We were served dinner and I wasn't sure how I was going to manage but I did really well. I ate everything except the bread and mozzarella off my started (I still don't do cheese) and the little chocolate leaf off my pudding. We had a salad to start, vegetarians had sweet potato risotto with dauphinoise  potatoes and roasted vegetables for main and butterscotch tart with strawberries for pudding.

After dinner and some good old chitchat, the lights were switched off and the disco lights came on. We all made our way to the dance floor and had a whale of a time. The DJ was pretty good, he played lots of recent, well-known songs. The evening really got started when he played Call Me Maybe- no one can resist singing along and jumping to that! We had a very entertaining evening, watching some of the teachers who had perhaps enjoyed the wine a little too much dancing crazily with each other and, in the case of our headmistress, with some of the young men who had come. We danced for several hours, taking a few breaks for fresh air because it was BOILING!

Eventually, the final song played and the lights came back on. People piled into minibuses because we were all going off to join our parents and then enjoy more dancing at one girl's house. When we arrived we had to dash in through the torrential rain, receiving pink wristbands to show that we were allowed to be there. I met up with my parents and my Dad asked me for a dance, thinking that I would flatly refuse. To his surprise I jumped at the chance-what can I say, I'm a Daddy's girl! We went up to the barn where heavy music and strobe lights were in full swing. There was a great atmosphere, with all of us enjoying our limited time left together.



Eventually my parents and I returned home after a brilliant evening. I absolutely loved getting all dressed off but most of all I enjoyed the company-my friends are an AMAZING bunch of people.
My Dad and I
My Mum and I

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Emma Ducklings

Emmanuel College, Cambridge is famous for it's ducks. When I was up there I had rather a lot of fun taking pictures of the gorgeous little ducklings. Here are just a few:




Aren't they sweet?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Came to Cambridge

Mum and I got up early Sunday morning so that we could drive to Cambridge and spend the day with Caroline and Alex. I am staying up here with Caroline until Friday. Predictably I slept all the way until my Mum woke me up because there were traffic cones across the road which blocked us off from where we were meant to park. I sat in the car being useless while Mum went off to find someone in charge. After a while she came back, picked up the cones and drove straight through. She assured me she had permission...

The four of us went out on a guided punt which took us down the river past all of the colleges that back onto the river (Kings, Clare, Trinity, St Johns) and under the famous bridges (Clare Bridge, Mathematical Bridge, The Bridge of Sighs). The weather held out and it was really relaxing and very interesting!








We then went out into the Emmanuel gardens and sat by the pond having a picnic. We were quickly encircled by ducks of all varieties, looking longingly at our food. Mostly it was slightly annoying but there was a very cute moment when one of the very young, very fluffy ducklings got a little lost and ended up in the middle of our picnic rug. After a quick nibble at my fingers it found its way back to its family.

In the afternoon we went to John Lewis and invested in some Olympic attire. We also went to Build A Bear to pick up some Olympic wear for our bear (a picture will come at some point!) That evening we all went out to ASK Italian. It was quite a treat for Alex as she is a coeliac so doesn't normally get pasta but they had gluten-free pasta. She experienced her first ever Pasta Bolognese! For pudding I had a delicious pistachio gelato- one of the best I've ever tasted!
Alex and Mum left to go home and me and Caz enjoyed an evening watching some Fawlty Towers.


On Monday, Caz and I had a little lie in before getting up and heading over to the Grafton shopping centre. We spent our morning shopping, buying quite a few new things, and had lunch in Debenhams. In the afternoon we went to see Snow White and The Huntsman. It was amazing! We ate dinner in hall, which is always a fun experience, even when it's not Formal Hall. That evening we snuggled up to watch Cheaper By The Dozen, the perfect way to relax with a few giggles thrown in.


On Tuesday we headed off to the market after breakfast and got ourselves some mango fruit drinks. After looking around there a bit we headed to a bookstore but found it a little wheelchair-unfriendly so we wandered around a bit looking for a music store that Caz had once stumbled across. After a little searching we found it and Caz hurried me in, desperate to show me something. Not long later, we walked out of the shop, the proud new owners of a bright yellow ukelele! She has been christened Emmanuelle, nickname Emma after a certain college!We came back to hall for lunch and I then spent the afternoon having a jamming session and going for a run around Parker's Piece while Caz had an appointment. We then headed out for an afternoon ice cream (this has become a sort of tradition and quite a good test for me!).
We wandered around King's Parade, finding out when the college and chapel would be open and generally mooching around. We had dinner in hall again and then Caz headed out to a meeting whilst I had great fun, judging the Olympic mascots that the Brownies had designed. 


Wednesday was a day of adventures. We got up and headed over to the Grafton Centre as we needed a few more things for the Brownies and we wanted to go into an amazing shop called Evolution which has the cutest little random things ever! We sat in Costa for a while, me freezing my brain off with a Mango and Passionfruit Cooler and Caz enjoying a patriotic Gingerbread man (his buttons were Union Flags!) before going into a dress shop to try on some outrageous frocks and have a good laugh. Unfortunately the fitting room lady was grumpy and wouldn't let us take pictures :( We then hit up Poundland, getting supplies like paper plates, before going off to have lunch in Debenhams once again. I had recently bought Caroline a Wreck This Journal so we had good fun completing a couple of the activities in there. We headed outside and Caz went to Argos while I went in to Whittards. As I was browsing through their tea selection I noticed a policeman and security guard standing outside with the women from the dress shop fitting room. They were pointing at me. 


The policeman came in and asked me to step outside with him. My first thought was "Oh my Gosh, what has happened to my sister?!" but as he started to speak I realised that she was not the issue here. Apparently some dresses had gone missing from the shop and the lady thought it was us. The security guard had been trailing us all around the centre apparently (we'd obviously be great secret agents with our great observation). Another policeman had by this point brought Caroline over and we were both subjected to a search in the middle of the street. Thankfully they found nothing and we were cleared but we were not really in the mood for shopping any more. We rushed back for a cup of tea-it always seems to make things better! 


I think we can both safely say that our hearts have had their exercise for the day. It was a seriously stressful experience and I am just looking forward to a time where this will be nothing but a funny story to tell!



Monday, 2 July 2012

A little bit of beauty

I'm staying with my amazing sister up in Cambridge at the moment and having a wicked time. But more on that tomorrow! For now I'll just leave you with something a little enchanting. My Dad called me out to the garden early in the morning last week and this is what I found:

It's incredible how something so small can create such awe inspiring beauty.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Good Life

You lucky people get two posts today!

The rest of the week spent with my friends was very fun. We had a lie in on Wednesday morning and then just before lunchtime we headed to Guildford Spectrum. We went bowling which was great fun! I won in our lane but Steph won overall and it was very tight at the top. For lunch we went to Wimpy chicken and ate whilst watching all the kids playing in the pool and on the slides. As you might be able to imagine that lunch was a little challenging for em because anorexics and fast foods don't tend to mix well. I managed to have some fish finger type things but had to pick off the coating because I just couldn't face it. However, I still think it was a big achievement for me because I ate out with my friends, I was quite spontaneous and I managed to choose something off a menu when I hadn't seen it in advance. After lunch we headed downstairs and went ice skating. We had some varying levels of ability/comfort on the ice but after a couple of minutes of finding my feet I was feeling pretty happy shooting around. I did fall over twice but as we say when we are skiing: "If you didn't fall, you weren't trying hard enough!"

I came home Wednesday night because the next day my parents were taking us all to Henley and I had to help my mum do some preparations for what was probably the largest picnic we've ever had. In the morning Mum and Dad finished off preparing the lavish feast and loaded everything in the car, whilst my friends arrived. We all compared our fascinators and hats and twirled around in our lovely below-the-knee dresses. My parents set off in the car and we all piled into a minibus. We had quite a long journey up to Henley, hitting some big roadworks but we got there around 11.30. We were dropped off a little walk from the entrance to the Stewards' Enclosure and by the time we got there had already had several compliments on how lovely we looked. At the entrance we proudly flashed our badges and were let straight in. We headed to one of the bars to await my parents and enjoyed a ridiculously overpriced but delicious jug of cold Pimms...just what was needed. We sat back and chilled, reveling in the poshness of it all. Everywhere we looked there were beautiful hats and the hugest range of different blazers we had ever seen-some of them were rather more colourful than others! My Dad was in his Cambridge blue one. My parents arrived and Dad told us a little about how the racing worked. We then went off on our own and found some stools right in front of the water. We had great fun watching some races and devised a new game. As each boat came past we had to yell out the position of the  rower that we found most attractive-childish and yet very entertaining. We discovered that we all share a rather similar taste in men.

At 1.00 we headed off to the car park where Mum and Dad had been busy, laying out picnic rugs and setting up a table with the feast. Dad popped open the champagne and we all layed down to bask in the unexpected but very welcome sunshine. We started off with vegetables and dips before keenly moving onto the main. Dad had prepared some gourmet sandwiches; smoked salmon and dill, and a three bread-slice chicken and avocado. We also had several different salads (green, potato, rice) and six different quiches. For pudding we had loads of gorgeous British strawberries and cream. It was really nice, just sitting in the sun, chilling and chatting together.

After lunch we headed back to the Stewards' Enclosure. We had just finished experiencing the most luxurious event toilets you have ever seen when I got a message from my dad telling us to meet him by the bandstand for a surprise. We all rushed over intrigued and Dad introduced us to a man called Lynton, who he knew very well through work and who just happened to be an umpire. Lynton gave us all a pass that apparently entitled us to go onto the Committee Lawn. We were still not quite sure what this meant but he led the way and we entered a fenced off area right in front of the finish line. It is an area normally only open to people with high rank. Lynton bought us all a drink (iced coffee-yum) and then explained to us where we now had access to. We could sit in the floating grandstand and walk all the way up the path to the boat house. Several of us decided to wander down there, flashing our badges excitedly as we passed the security guards. Once down there we discovered lots of different crews, moving their boats around and getting ready to race. It was a rather pretty sight (some of the men were taking their tops off to pull up their rowing outfits!) but we were immediately distracted by a very lavish red and gold boat- The Gloriana! As we had seen her just weeks earlier, leading the Jubilee Pageant down the Thames, this was extremely exciting for us Royalty lovers! We took our pictures with her and even, sneakily, touched her! We spent the rest of our afternoon watching races from the floating grandstand (picking out teams to cheer for), listening to the military band, sunbathing in the deckchairs and dangling our feet in the river. We had a group photo and were asked by the women taking it if we had just rowed. We played with them for a bit, letting them believe we had. 

All too soon, it was 6.00 and we had to go back to our minibus. We had a fun trip home, joking with our bus driver and spent the evening going in the hottub, watching movies and giggling. We had a big sleepover on my lounge floor and woke up late to a breakfast of sausages and many varieties of fruit juice.

On Friday, a few headed back to school while a few of us went pottery painting in Ripley. People painted a shark, a cupcake pot, a mug and saucer and bowls. I painted what I like to call a "recovery bowl". It is a bowl with encouraging messages on it for me when I'm eating and once I have finished eating I will have revealed the Well Done written in the bottom! I thought it was rather funny. After we finished I had to rush off because I had a job interview at Starbucks. All went well and I got the job! I start in August which will give me time to get trained up before the term starts (it's on the University campus so get's super busy in term time). I will hopefully be able to do that full time from September!

Sharon Fruit and Banana Oat Crumble

I made this last weekend and have only just put the picture on my computer so here is the promised recipe. This crumble is rich, crunchy and relatively healthy! We once again served it warm with a scoop of vanilla pod ice cream-delicious!

Sharon Fruit and Banana Oat Crumble
Topping Ingredients
150g Rolled Oats
75g Wholemeal Flour
1-2 teaspoons Cinnamon
50mls Light Sunflower Oil
25mls Milk
25g Golden Caster Sugar

Filling Ingredients
4 Sharon Fruit, cut into small chunks
3 Ripe Bananas, sliced

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Grease a 9-inch, deep baking dish. Layer half the Sharon Fruit in the dish. Layer all of the banana slices on this and then top with the remaining Sharon Fruit.
  3. In a bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon and flour. Mix the sunflower oil and milk and gradually add to the dry ingredients, mixing them together. The mixture should be moist and gently clump together.
  4. Layer the mixture on top on the fruit, spreading it evenly before sprinkling the caster sugar over the top.
  5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden  brown.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Freedom

Let me tell you, freedom is fun.

I came back to school on Monday at lunchtime after my appointments with my dietitian and occupational therapist-hard but eye-opening and rewarding sessions. I drove myself here, which I love. There is just something so liberating about being independent. I think it's just the thought that I now have the ability to go anywhere whenever I want to.

Monday afternoon was spent with friends, sewing badges onto my camp blanket and reading. After dinner we kicked off with our cliched sleepover. We painted nails and got henna whilst watching Pretty In Pink and The History Boys. It was lots of fun and full of laughter, something we haven't heard much of in a while.

Tuesday we got up early and took a road trip to Guildford station to catch a train to London. We hit up Oxford Street, browsing through the racks in Topshop, Miss Selfridge, H&M, Forever 21 and (how could we resist) The Disney Store! We had a great time and by 12.30 our purses were lighter and stomachs were rumbling! We went to a little place called Ed's Diner. It is a really cute little New-York style diner with some great food and an even greater atmosphere. After lunch we got the tube to Covent Garden and wandered around the market and some of the little stores. We went on a long trip to try and find the Canada Store so that Mandy could buy her precious Tim Horton's coffee mix and also had fun looking at all the cute slogan attire in David and Goliath. We sat down for a little bit, watching a guy set up his street show before heading back to Waterloo and home again. Before dinner we all chilled, I watched some Gilmore Girls, and then after dinner we started watching Freaky Friday as I had never seen it before. What a hilarious movie! Totally over-dramatic and right up my street! We then headed off to the boarders' preview of the Lower 6ths' musical Cabaret. It was their dress rehearsal and, despite a couple of hitches, they pulled off a great show and it was a really nice evening with a bit of culture thrown in.

I promised you a recipe of the Sharon Fruit and Banana Oat Crumble that I made at the weekend but I left the memory card with the picture on at home so you'll just have to wait until I go home tonight!


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Survival

Well, the exams have finished and I am still alive. Battered, worn down, exhausted but very much alive. And I'll tell you a funny thing. I spent the whole exam period, and much of the lead up to it, thinking about all the things I was going to do when I had finished exams. I had so much planned but yesterday evening found me wondering what on earth to do with myself. It would seem that after such a long time of being pretty stressed, it takes the mind a while to get used to not having to do anything. I thought there would be no end to my love of having nothing to do. I do love it, don't get me wrong. I just feel rather unproductive!

I say that but I have done some rather useful things today, they just happen to be completely unwork-related. My Dad and I went to the Fishmonger's and Sainsbury's. My aunt and cousin came over and I managed to book myself a week of child-minding her (my cousin, not my aunt!) during the school holidays (good news seeing as I got another job rejection yesterday-it was waiting for me straight after my exam but I was so elated at having finished that I didn't really mind!) I also made a Sharon Fruit and Banana Oat Crumble- pictures and a recipe shall come soon, I promise because, if I say so myself, it looks rather good! And now I am settled down, watching the Grand Prix Qualifying.

Hopefully now the blog can become a proper project and shall be well updated. It should get a bit more interesting now that my life does not revolve around school. I have lots of activities planned that I want to share with everyone!

Just one thing to leave you with:

The struggles end, you get through them, new adventures await!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Fruit Crush

I want to introduce you to my current fruit crush...
Meet the humble Persimmon (aka Sharon Fruit)
I first discovered these babies on a street in South Africa and fell in love! Recently my Mum and I were in Guildford when the market was on and they had great boxes of these. We asked how much they were, assuming we might buy 3 or 4, only to be told we had to buy a whole box (around 25!)...So we did and we have been eating them since, on their own and in a cake as pudding. You might not have heard of them before so here's a little info:

They originally come from China and are very popular in Asia. In the 1990s they started being cultivated in South Africa which is now one of the major producers of Sharon Fruit. They can be eaten hard or soft-I prefer them soft. I would describe them as being similar to a cross between a mango and a peach. They have no stone or seeds, the entire fruit can be eaten.

And if you want to do something with them but aren't sure what...this recipe for Persimmon Cookies is divine!

Persimmon Cookies Recipe
Persimmon Cookies II Recipe
Yields 36 cookies

Ingredients
2 ripe persimmons, pureed
200 g white sugar
115 g butter
1 egg
250 g all-purpose flour
5 g baking soda
2 g ground cinnamon
1 g ground cloves
2 g ground nutmeg
3 g salt
115 g chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease or line one baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. 
  3. Cream the butter or margarine with the sugar. Beat in the egg and persimmons. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined, stir in the chopped nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheet. 
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
They are really moist and sweet! Enjoy!

Lolly xoxo

Monday, 18 June 2012

Not the be-all-and-end-all

I've been given some wise words from several people on several different occasions recently telling me that if my exams don't go well, it's not the end of the world- you can still make your life a successful one. Each time I was told this, I nodded along but inside all I could think was "It would be the end for me!" And it's true that if I completely failed my A-Levels (which I know wont happen) I wouldn't be able to continue on the path I'm wanting to follow at the moment. To study medicine at university you need pretty darn good A-Levels. I couldn't get it into my head that following another path if things don't work out wouldn't really be a failure at all, just another route through life. I am now starting to realise that there are plenty of career options out there that I would love and enjoy that don't require 4 A*s or a top university degree. So to keep in the right mind frame, I came up with a list of people that inspire me who either haven't been to university or have dropped out.

1. Richard Branson- One of the richest men in the world, he left school at 16 and built up the Virgin brand, making him worth billions. While I don't see myself coming up with a multi-billion brand he is without a doubt, very successful. And he has absolutely no A-Levels!

2. Adele- the world-famous multiplatinum singer left school at 16

3. David Karp- Invented Tumblr after leaving school at 15. He is the inventor of the world's biggest procrastination website ever (at least for me!)

4. Ralph Lauren- Dropped out of college after two years and went on to develop the Polo Ralph Lauren brand

5. Julie Andrews- the queen of musicals dropped out of school to pursue her dream

6. Steve Jobs- the founder and CEO of Apple Inc. attended college for one semester before dropping out.

There are so many more hugely successful people who didn't get a degree but these are just a few who have made a difference in my life.

I'm just lucky that the one job I want above all others requires absolutely no qualifications- a heck of a lot of hard work, yes, but no A-Levels. Can you guess what I want to be when I grow up?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Screw it

I was going to abstain but...then I realised I had promised an account of my jubilee celebrations!

So my celebrations were interspersed with work but I did manage to have a good time nonetheless.

Sunday-Whilst working I watched the Diamond Jubilee Pageant. I thought it was a marvellous sight, I loved all the grandeur. And I would just like to say how in awe I am of the hundreds if not thousands of people who rowed their boats in horrible conditions for several hours. Now that is some impressive stamina and I wouldn't mind a piece of that in my half-marathon training!

Monday- In the morning I headed down to Send in my Guiding uniform to process with the Brownies in the parade. The central road was closed and we all followed the Sea Cadets Band and a wagon. The turnout was much less than expected but it was still a good atmosphere and a nice memory for the girls. In the evening I tuned in for the Jubilee Concert which I thought was a great success, although my favourite moment has to be HRH Prince Charles' "Mummy". Google it if you're not sure what I'm harping on about.

Tuesday- Well, firstly, it was my little cousin's 10th birthday! I cant believe she is this old, really I can't. I still remember her at 6 months...it's scary how kids grow. In the evening we went to a "Neighbours Only" event at Clandon Park, which was just open to West Clandon residents. My, parents, grandparents, aunt, the birthday girl and I went and had a very interesting tour of the usually closed attic rooms. We had planned on a picnic but the rain was horrendous so we had an indoor picnic down in the basement.

That pretty much sums it up although whilst we're on the Jubilee topic (and I think it's about time to put it to bed-it was a little while ago now) I have to mention a little treat my Mum bought me.


It is a gorgeous Jubilee tin from Marks and Spencer with the most divine rounds of shortbread inside. Me and the parents have been enjoying them tremendously. A few weeks ago I wouldn't have dreamed of deviating from the standard cereal bar that I have as part of my morning and afternoon snacks but I took the plunge and was surprised to be able to appreciate the biscuits. So thank you M&S.

Now I MUST get back to my revision. I have had my blogging fix for now and hope you have had your reading fix.

Just a quickie...

I know I've been boring and this blog has seen no action but bear with me. I am in the middle of my two weeks of exams right now, so as soon as they are finished my posting will get a lot more frequent (and hopefully a little more inspired).

I think exams are going as well as can be expected given my circumstances. I know that I've tried my best for all of them so at least I wont regret wasted time on results day.

On that note, I am going to love and leave you.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Knock knock?

Who's there? Is anyone there? Yes I am still here and yes I have been updating my blog far less frequently than I would like but to be honest a)I don't have time to update it more at the moment and b)if I did you'd be incredibly bored by the lack of interesting stuff in my life right now. I can't wait till after exams (only 18 more days-now that's scary!) when I will have time to do whatever I want and time left over!

So a round up of recent life (minus those boring bits I mentioned):

1. With some of my birthday money I bought myself a Kindle 4 and it is AMAZING. I permitted myself to buy (and read) one eBook before exams- I chose to reread the Hunger Games- but no more. That is one reward waiting at the end of exams. Whilst buying my Kindle,  I was pondering what to get my friend Louise for her birthday and I came up with the idea that some friends and I could all chip in and buy her a kindle. She named him Cicero.

2. We went out to dinner for Louise's birthday at TGI Friday's. It is the first time I've been out to a restaurant with my friends since I got anorexia and was a big step for me. It was stressful and scary at points but I managed it and I managed to really enjoy spending the evening with friends. Laura-1 Anorexia-0 Woohoo

3. I went to see my sister playing her French Horn in the Royal Albert Hall. She played with Surrey Advanced Brass and the Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra and was absolutely fantastic. It was so great to see my sister up there in such a famous venue playing like she was born to do. Sooooo proud.

4. I saw my surgeon and have an operation scheduled for early August to get the plate taken out of my foot. He's not sure if it's actually the plate causing the pain but if we did an MRI now the plate would shine and block out anything useful so we'll see how it is after the op (fingers crossed it will be sorted) and take it from there.

5. Half-marathon training has not been going too badly. Right now I am focusing on building up my stamina because 5 months sitting in a hospital doing nothing makes a simple jog pretty hard work. I'm increasing th distances slowly and it sure helps that my running partner is my Dad! The only minor setback is the weather-we don't much like running in the rain!

Jubilee celebrations are in full swing and I shall do a post on how I spent the long weekend shortly.

Lolly xxx