18 Oct 2017

introducing my 2018 planner: Leuchtturm 1917 week to view with a notes page

The time has come to get a new planner as events and plans for 2018 have now started rolling in. This time, I've opted to stay with a bound, notebook style planner. I'm not a fan of bullet journaling so I've chosen one that is already dated. Leuchtturm 1917 is a brand I absolutely love and there was a lot of uhm-ing and ahh-ing over which colour to get. Eventually, I settled on the emerald green colour. You may recall that I already have a notebook in this colour from posts such as this one about my revision notebook.

I liked that it came with an removable address book (though this might end up being a general notebook that will accompany me whilst at work), a squared paper insert which has a wide rule on the other side (too wide for my liking if I'm honest - who even has handwriting that big?!) and some sticky labels. 

There are many different times of month/year views inside: from the year view laid out in full to a vertical month view and also a 'project view' too. The one view I miss, however, is a grid view of each month as it allows me to see when I'm working weird shifts at a glance.

The weekly views aren't too different to my Moleskine from this year - a week to view on the left and a ruled page to the right. This planner is wider than the Moleskine though so I definitely get more pen real estate with this one.

The two page markers are also perfect - I put one at the week I'm on and one at the back, at a blank note page.

There is plenty of plain note paper at the back. My Moleskine only had 7 sides (for an 18 month planner) whereas this Leuchtturm 1917 offering has 23 even though it's only a twelve month planner!

With orange my second choice for this planner, I opted for an orange pen-loop instead and it contrasts quite nicely with the emerald green hard cover. 

I'm already excited for 2018 to arrive so that I can put this planner to good use though I will be sad to retire my Le Petit Prince Moleskine from 2016-17.

11 Oct 2017

book: pretty honest by sali hughes

Last year, I got into make-up and wanted to read a bit more about it all. Two of Kevyn Aucoin's offerings sit on my bookshelf and get a peruse every so often but there was a want for something more substantial. Enter Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes.

Amazon.co.uk describe the book as follows:

"Beauty books. Exquisite coffee-table affairs featuring improbably beautiful models with wholly-unachievable-to-most women looks, product review-heavy volumes which become almost instantly outdated, or tracts of holistic mumbo jumbo, like how to make an unproven face pack from organic molasses and rough-hewn porridge oats. 

Not anymore. 

In Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show real women how to make the most of makeup’s physically and emotionally transformative powers. Covering everything from teenage skin to mature beauty, botox to bridal make-up, sickness to good health, it's a work that is part instruction manual, part love letter to makeup – in a writing style that combines beauty editor, feminist and painfully funny best friend."

Though the book is quite thick, the chapters are short and are broken up by photos. It's a very thorough book for those getting into skincare and make-up, amongst other things related to beauty. Sali tries to give her own product recommendations where appropriate and she'll mostly give a selection of drugstore brands, mid-range and also higher-end products.

Before my skincare routine became the way it was, I had done a load of research myself on ingredients and how I wanted my skin to look like at its best. This meant parts of the book were a little basic for me. This is a good introduction for those in their late teens or early twenties or for those who want a beauty book that covers most things related to being a woman.

Pretty Honest is a book that will look pretty on your bookshelf but at the same time, give you a good number of handy tips and tricks on things that can take months or years to figure out. 7/10!

8 Oct 2017

my week #286

On Friday, I came down with flu and have been feeling pretty rotten this weekend. Though before that, I did have a very productive week at work. October is already shaping up to be a busy month and my to-do list is extending at a faster rate than I can currently tick things off. No matter though - some of the things have a deadline months into the future :)

How has your week been?

4 Oct 2017

2018 planner: do I go back to a six-ring organiser or a bound one?

My main dilemma for next year's planner was whether to go for six-ring organiser or a bound one. The last time I used a six-ring organiser was back in 2014 and if I'm honest, there was a burning desire to go back to my Smythson. To decide, it was a fight between the head and the heart...

Six-Ring Organiser

- Flexible layout: I can choose which extras to include aside from the diary pages. You can also take out half of the year's pages once July comes around, thus making it a lot lighter to tote.

- I absolutely love my Smythson planner (and do miss it a lot!). The gold rings, the bright pink colour on the outside and the pale pink colour on the inside...

- Can get quite heavy! Therefore, not too practical to carry around daily.

- Limited capacity with the rings... Conversely, it can be tempting to stuff them, thus ruining them.

- Not a great number of diary inserts to choose from and the quality of many is still lacking. Some are also quite expensive!


- Light to carry around.

- Priced the same as some diary inserts.

- Many brands to choose from! Leuchtturm 1917, Moleskine, Quo Vadis, etc.

- Also many layouts to choose from! Day per page, week to view, week to view with a note page, vertical week to view...

- Most have better quality paper than some diary inserts for organisers.


- Not so flexible when it comes to the extra sections. You can't really rip out the ones you don't use either due to how unsightly it'd look.

- Any essential information that doesn't change year on year has to be copied in every time a new planner is started - this can be time consuming.

With all this in mind, I've since bought next year's planner and it'll be revealed in due course :)

1 Oct 2017

my week #285

Four tough night shifts on ward cover survived! And to add to this good news, I heard that Rollercoaster Tycoon was being released on Steam for Mac... So no prizes for guessing what I've been doing this weekend while trying to re-jig my sleep pattern for tomorrow.

My free time has been kept busy with a secret, but exciting, project which will undoubtedly be blogged about in due course :)

How has your week been?

27 Sep 2017

revisiting old journals - a yearly occurrence

Each year, I get a little nostalgic where my old journals are dug out and flicked through. Having kept a journal since I was in my early teens and as cheesy as this sounds, it really helps me see how much I've grown up over time. It's also entertaining and cringeworthy to see what topics take precedence as each year goes by. At school, the things talked about the most were friends, classes and (predictably) boys. Recently, it's more been about future career fears and budgeting!

For me, the main benefit of journaling is reflecting on how I was as a person a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, etc. It was only two years ago that I started to journal weekly without fail but there are still entries often enough stretching back ten years for me to gain an idea of what I was like as a person.

By reflecting, I can see what parts of my character are ones that I don't really like about myself and what parts I do like. Obviously, we all have an ideal we strive towards and this reflection helps me see how far from this ideal I am. It's also interesting to see how things change and how my priorities change throughout the years.

Do you do anything similar?

24 Sep 2017

my week #283 and #284

Two in one this week! Unfortunately, I was working last weekend so was unable to post last week's pages. They were much more interesting than this week's though. I've blurred out an awful lot as always, there are some things I just don't feel comfortable with sharing with the internet.

Anyway! The weekends really are as awful as they sound and I was glad to get my first out of the way. And now onto nights this week (again)... Eek!

20 Sep 2017

book: trust me, i'm a junior doctor by max pemberton

Before I started medical school, I remember reading this book in an effort to gain more of an insight into the life of a junior doctor. Now that medical school has been and gone (where did the time go?), I decided to give it another little read.

Trust Me, I'm A Junior Doctor is written in an Adrian Mole-style diary by Dr Max Pemberton, a junior doctor in his first year after finishing medical school. His training was very different to how mine will be - he only does one year of foundation whereas I will be doing two. During the book, we follow him through his first year where he does six months of surgery followed by six months of medicine.

The book is written in quite a light-hearted and chatty manner which makes for an easy read. As each chapter represents a month and there is an entry for most days of each month, it means the book can be picked up and put down quite easily. Boiling the kettle for a cup of tea? That's the perfect length of time for one day.

The one gripe I have with the book is how mean the author is about some of his colleagues. I know we meet many different characters in our lives (in all careers, not just medicine) but to me, it's quite distasteful to talk about colleagues in the way he has. Giving one of his seniors the nickname of 'Sad Sack' and calling a nurse in charge 'The Battleaxe' is a little over the top (in my opinion). It seems he's trying to bring some humour into what can be a bit of a dry subject but tried a bit too hard.

Aside from that, there are many humorous parts to it and some very sad parts also. It's made me contemplate keeping my own mini diary for each day I work - not least because it is a good way to unload anything that might keep my awake later that night/day when trying to get to sleep!

It's a good, entertaining read, despite some of my gripes with it. 7/10.

13 Sep 2017

beauty empties: may, june, july and august & mini reviews!

For January to April's empties, please click here.


Murad Time Release Blemish Cleanser
A friend introduced me to this cleanser and it helped clear up my skin. It has an extremely faint fragrance, so perfect for those who don't like strong smells. One bottle also lasted me two years, even with daily use. It is on the pricier end so for that reason, I give it 8/10. Otherwise, it would be my perfect cleanser. I'm now using something much cheaper with no adverse symptoms (touch wood!).

Papa Bombee Whitening Honey Mask Pack
My sister bought me a few of these from her trip to Korea and I only just got round to using one here.  I did get instant brightening effects but this mask had a strong smell of honey. When that smell is right next to your nose for nigh on half an hour, it can get a bit sickly! I don't mind it but others might. I really like this mask. 7.5/10 as it does feel like there's something missing with it.

Ren Flash Hydro Boost (sample)
This sample was one I really wanted to dislike as Ren products are great but very pricey! It turned out that this was actually an amazing product. It left my skin feeling plump and healthy the next morning (I used it as an overnight mask). The fragrance was a bit too strong and I wasn't a big fan of it but the effects were worth it. I've opted not to purchase it as I'm sure there are products out there with the same active ingredients for a fraction of the price. 8.5/10 (points deducted for price and smell).

Estee Lauder Nutritious Vitality8 Night cream (samples (six of them!))
This was an average cream - no visible effect. I used the samples up for the sake of it really. The samples were also very stingy with not much in there! The Ren one before had enough for a week's use! 1/10 for this cream - pleasant to apply but did nothing.

& Herbal Essences shampoo and an Oral-B toothpaste!


VDL Lumilayer Primer (sample)
I really liked this primer! I don't use highlighter but this primer gave me a glow on my cheekbones and brow areas, even after applying foundation. 8/10

Darphin Melaperfect Skin Tone Brightening Moisture (sample)
This is a sample I absolutely detested and ceased using after one trial. Super greasy, smelt weird and the texture was thick and hard to spread. 0/10

Holy Snails El Dorado (sample)
This is a vitamin C serum and I got it as part of the sampler set. Didn't notice a difference. 1/10

Murad Oil Control Mattifier Moisturiser sample
I got this as part of a set. It is quite thick and hard to spread so I always found myself using more when compared to other creams. It's ok but I won't be re-purchasing as it isn't worth the price for me. 5/10

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
My sister bought me this from her trip to Korea late last year and I'm not quite sure if it even made a little bit of difference. I haven't replaced it after it ran out and my skin still seems the same. However, it was the summer and my skin doesn't usually need as much moisture... We'll have to wait until the colder months to see if this is worth a re-purchase. 6/10

Vichy Normaderm Night Detox
The thing about this cream is that it goes on easily, absorbs really quickly and seems to make my skin feel less greasy in the morning. Already re-purchased! 8/10

Revlon 3D Extreme Mascara
Smudged within an hour of application! I've yet to find a drugstore mascara that doesn't smudge on my oily under-eye area... 1/10

The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector
Despite its overwhelming medicinal smell, this is actually a really good moisturiser for very dry skin. My hands can get really dry with excessive hand washing on the wards and this cream has been good at preventing my skin from cracking and drying out. 7/10

Alpha H Absolute Eye Complex With Cucumber and Vitamin B5 (Sample x2)
These samples were HUGE. They lasted forever and I ended up using it all over my face instead. Annoyingly, I definitely noticed a difference with this. I would use it as part of my evening routine and the next day, my skin had more of a glow and was a bit brighter. Won't be purchasing as I have many products to get through before even contemplating adding to my collection. 8/10

Banila Co White Wedding Dream Cream (sample x2)
Nothing special... Didn't notice a difference with these samples. 1/10

Skin Food Fresh Apple Cream
Over-powering smell of apple and only enough in the sample for two applications. Therefore, hard to tell if it had any effect. 1/10

Skin Food Fresh Apple Essence
Again, an overwhelming smell of apple and not enough in the sample to tell if it had any positive or negative effect. 1/10

Origins VitaZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser with Mangosteen SPF15
Weird, thick, greasy cream that left a bizarre white sheen to my face. Not a fan unfortunately. 0/10

& (not pictured) Garnier Ultimate Blends shampoo and an Oral-B toothpaste.


Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner (samples)
Not enough in the sample and just didn't do anything. 1/10

Cosrx Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream 
With no fragrance to this cream and the promise of ceramides, this cream was promising. And it certainly delivered. Left my skin feeling hydrated and plump without a film of grease. Very impressed - just wish it was a little bit cheaper! 8/10

Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream (sample)
Again, one of those samples where there isn't enough to fully evaluate if it had a positive or a negative effect. 1/10

Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum
This is my all time favourite perfume - it is floral and feminine but without being overbearing. It also doesn't fade towards the end of the day. Already repurchased when I passed through Duty Free earlier this year! 9.5/10

Alpha H Liquid Gold
I reviewed this in this blog post. 8.5/10

& Other Stories Body Moisturisers: Mediterranean, Fig Fiction and Moroccan Tea (samples)
My favourite out of these? The Moroccan Tea one. It smelt heavenly: floral, but not overwhelmingly so, and it just smelt like a holiday. It's a perfect lightweight moisturiser for the summer but I wouldn't recommend it for drier weather. 8/10

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Cream (sample)
This was a really thick cream which went on easily. The sample was huge and lasted forever and eventually, seeing no results on my under-eye areas, I just slathered it all over my face. The effect? Much brighter, glowing skin! This sample had a positive effect but its price just puts me right off. 5/10

NYX Matte Finishing Spray
Considering this comes in at about £5 a bottle, it is well worth the money. This one lasted me about six months of near daily use and seems to keep my make-up from fading. Already re-purchased (though currently trailing the Urban Decay All Nighter). 7.5/10

Bumble and Bumble Surf Shampoo and Conditioner (samples)
Having yet to find a Bumble and Bumble product that impresses me, this one was the same. Left my hair feeling unclean and there wasn't enough in it for my hair (which is medium in length!). 1/10

Guerlain Le Petite Robe Noire (two samples)
A feminine perfume which lasts for about half a day. Still on the lookout for the perfume that can defeat my current holy grail of Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb. 5/10

Papa Honey Bombee Whitening Sheet Mask (x2)
See the review in May (scroll up)!

Holiday Candy Sheet Mask
This mask had an overwhelming smell of cotton candy and didn't seem to have much effect if I'm honest. 2/10

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
I bought this as I'm a huge fan of snail products. On Reddit, several users claimed that it helped shrink those massive red cystic spots and it genuinely did do this for me - and overnight too! Also really good for healing open sores (like those pesky paper cuts). 9.5/10

Laneige Water Bank Sleeping Mask (sample)
I took this with me on my trip to Canada and used it as the last step of my night time routine. I really liked it - my skin felt more hydrated in the morning, it had no overwhelming fragrance and a little goes a long way. Full size purchased! 8/10

Avene Cleanance K Sample

I actually have this in the full size and decided to take this travel sized bottle with me to Canada in an effort to travel light. I don't think it does anything special to my skin but it doesn't seem to harm it either. It might be one of those products where you don't notice the difference until you stop using it so only time will tell... 5/10


The Body Shop Hemp Foot Protector
They do a hand cream version of this too and if I'm honest, I can't see any difference between them. I ended up using this all over my body whenever my skin feels dry and it does a good job of adding moisture. The smell reminds me of my childhood for some reason but this won't be a cream I'll be repurchasing as it didn't seem like it did a better job than other cheaper moisturisers. 7/10

Papa Recipe Bombee Whitening Honey Mask Pack
Reviewed further up in the month of May (please scroll up!).

Boots Botanics All Bright Hydrating Day Cream SPF 15
This cream smelt lovely but it had a watery texture and a pink hue to it. Although it was watery in texture, it seemed to leave a thin film of oil on my face which wasn't particularly pleasant. 0/10

Benton Cacao Moist and Mild Cream
Reviewed here.

Nuxe RĂªve de Miel Lip Balm
Possibly the best pot lip balm I've ever used! Perfect for dry, chapped lips. I put this on before bed and I wake up with lips which are moisturised and no longer chapped. It has a slightly grainy, thick texture which I didn't mind. Already repurchased.  9.5/10

Vichy Normaderm Beautifying Anti-Blemish Care 24h Hydration (sample)
I'm not quite if this cream did anything for me if I'm honest! No obvious effect (positive or negative) so not something I'd want to repurchase at this moment in time. 3/10

Origins Renewal Serum (sample)
Again, a sample which didn't have enough in it for me to make a proper assessment. 1/10

& Oral B 3D White Pearl Glow Toothpaste

* * *

So that's it for another four months! Four more months of this challenge to go and it's quite nice to see how much I actually go through. The aim of this challenge is to prevent impulse purchases and hoarding and so far so good!

10 Sep 2017

my week #282

A busy week with some exciting developments which will be revealed in due course :)

The one thing I don't like at the moment is the fact that my friends are all so scattered which makes it extremely hard to do impromptu meets. Not least when we factor in weird working hours and days... If any of you are in the same situation, how do you get around this?

How has your week been?

6 Sep 2017

medschool essentials and ten things I wish I'd known

Today, I thought I'd share some of what I saw as essentials during medical school and what I wish I had known at the start :)

Most Used - The Oxford Handbooks (Surgery, Clinical Medicine and Clinical Specialties) were invaluable to me. You can access the other specialist handbooks online too if your university subscribes to OpenAthens!

Anatomy - I liked Netter's Anatomy Flashcards - they were pretty good for revising with on the bus/train/tube.

Pharmacology - I wouldn't recommend the Rang and Dale Pharmacology Flashcards as I found that they didn't go into enough depth. The actual Rang and Dale textbook is great though! Another useful pocket book was 'The Top 100 Drugs' by Prof Emma Baker.

Physiology - I liked Tortora's Anatomy and Physiology here though there are many others on the market.

The basics: stethoscope, tendon hammer, pen torch and lanyard. Carrying them all at once is optional (I usually only carried a stethoscope and lanyard).

Always carry something to write on and something to write with is my advice. You never know when someone decides to impart some piece of wisdom you never want to forget - clinical or otherwise!

Other Bonus Bits
Have you noticed how few dresses and skirts actually have pockets? I've managed to acquire a wardrobe where the majority of my skirts and dresses have pockets but when I first started... Well, carrying everything around was difficult (do I carry this energy bar or this pen torch? Usually food was the winner in such battles.).

Tissues are always good too. You may be asked to clerk a patient and things may get emotional for them (through no fault of your own)!

Finally, comfortable shoes must always adorn your feet. A six hour ward round is painful enough, why put yourself through more suffering?! Trust me, I've worn shoes that pinched my toes on long ward rounds and as someone who gets bored quickly and easily, they are ideal for preventing you from falling asleep... But are equally good at distracting you from what is going on around you!

1. Medschool isn't the be all and end all. Make time for hobbies.

2. It doesn't get any easier.

3. Ask more questions. And say yes!

4. Sleep is something for the weekends. Or at opportune moments if you're a good napper.

5. There is always more to know. Accept it.

6. There will come a point when you feel ready.

7. There is always time for the Student Union bar!

8. Your friends will be your future colleagues. As will everyone else in your year. And the year above. And the year below.

9. Machine washable clothing that don't need ironing after a wash are the holy grail.

10. It does get easier.

3 Sep 2017

my week #281

This week was a good one. A four day week can never be a bad thing and it was nice to catch up with a good friend on Monday - someone who is doing their foundation years on the other side of London, up in the heart of Essex.

How is it September already?! It only feels like yesterday I was sitting finals (back in April) and now it's almost autumn? As much as I love Christmas, it does feel like 2017 has flown by so far.

How has your week been?

30 Aug 2017

too many lists: regularly visiting my various to-do lists

I'm very good at writing lists: '30 before 30', '100 things in a year' and '101 things in 1001 days' are just a few I have all simultaneously on the go.

There is quite a few overlap with some goals present on all three lists and some present on two of them. There are also some unique ones which are year specific or a bigger goal which may take longer to achieve (and thus, went on the '30 before 30' list). So how I keep all these lists in check to make sure I tick off as many as possible?

Every few months or whenever I know I have a few weeks spare, I sit down with them all and write a separate list, taking out the goals I can achieve in the next few days or weeks. For instance, in the picture below, I had quite a few weeks off this summer before work started and so amalgamated the goals I thought were possible in this timeframe. The list you see below is before the summer started and now that summer has come to an abrupt end (work started a few weeks ago!), I'll go back to my original lists and tick off what has been accomplished and what will, sadly, have to wait.

Though it seems like a lot of hassle to have several lists on the go, I'm a fiend for ticking things off/crossing things out. The sense of achievement is too great and as long as I have the time, it is likely lists will continue to be made :)

What list challenges do you currently do and how often do you revisit them?

27 Aug 2017

my week #280

After a nice week off, it was good to get back into the swing of work. I was on-call twice this week but the fact I'm not on at all this bank holiday weekend more than makes up for it.

I saw my sister for the first time in weeks on Thursday for a National Burger Day dinner. Even though we only live about 5 miles away from each other, we've barely seen each other since I started work. I suppose this was to be expected and will just take some getting used to!

How was your week?

23 Aug 2017

what's in my bag #21: work!

Throughout my clinical years at medical school, I've decreased how much I carry around with me. Most of my clothes now have pockets which mean I can fit the bare essentials.

This is pretty much what I carry around with me most days (sometimes in a cross body bag if I can be bothered):

- An A6 Pantone notebook
One thing we're continuously told is that the learning never stops and this is true; hence the presence of this notebook.

- Cards in a Kate Spade holder
Because some days, you just wanted something different and easy for lunch/a snack.

- ID!

- My trusty Lamy Safari in Petrol Blue

- A stethoscope

- A snack (usually some bland crackers for when my blood sugar feels low!)
I try not to snack if I can help it but maybe once or twice a week, when the tank is empty or near empty, it gets eaten.

- Eye drops 
Staring at the computer doing discharge summaries can be harsh on the eyes!

Sometimes, I like to have a bottle of water on me too and will carry this in a bag (along with the bits shown above). It can be so easy to not drink enough during the day so I've been trying really hard to look after myself just as much as I look after the patients.

20 Aug 2017

my week #279

After coming off a mammoth week, I had this week off in return. I spent it catching up with friends, doing some life admin and just relaxing! It's been nice and in a weird way, I'm looking forward to going back to ward work this week.

On Thursday, I met up with a good friend at Dominique Ansel's bakery in Victoria, London. We chose three pastries to share and they were delicious (though pretty pricey!). We opted for the DKA, the Lime Me Up Tart and the Paris-London pastry because the Cronut was sold out by the time we got there. Good company with good food is always a winning combination :)

16 Aug 2017

my summer holiday in canada: vancouver highlights

Last month, I went to Vancouver for a week's holiday. I booked it back in February using some air miles and it was a graduation present to myself for finishing medical school after goodness knows how many years of having this dream. (Though I know that the hard work only begins now...!)

I packed my Instax camera but kept forgetting I had it with me (doh) so only took a few pictures. Here are a selection of them: from the day I left home, to the neighbourhood I was staying in to some amazing views (and botched selfies) on Grouse Mountain.

Tourist Hotspots

My sister leant me her 'Top 10' guidebook and I used it with a pinch of salt. When I went to Stockholm last year, I used it to the T and regretted not doing some random exploring instead. Instead, I only allocated a few days to the guidebook. On one of these days, I went to the Waterfront where Canada Place (the photo above) is. You could see over to North Vancouver from there and little did I know I was also looking at Grouse Mountain - a trip planned for another day.

After wondering around Waterfront for a while, I headed up Granville Road and towards Robson Street where the major shops are. After a spot of food, more walking was done and towards Gastown I went!


Gastown was streaming with tourists and tourist shops. It was a pretty part of Vancouver but I was on the hunt for more hidden gems in the city so it felt pretty underwhelming to me. I'm glad I took the time to visit this part of Vancouver though. 

Stanley Park

I have a few friends from Vancouver and they all said the same thing: Stanley Park is a must-do. A detour was taken into the Aquarium where the dolphins, otters, penguins and sea lions were the highlights! 

The park itself is extremely tranquil. Opting to walk the sea wall, the views were incredible. None of the photos I took did the views justice so there are none in this post unfortunately. 

Because walking the park wasn't a long enough distance, I then walked to English Bay Beach. 

Granville Island

As I was staying in Cambie (a suburb south of the city centre), I opted to take the Sky Train to Yaletown and then walk the bridge over to Granville Island - with regret setting in about halfway along said bridge! It was super windy and super high, and as someone with a fear of heights, I spent the whole walk repeating 'don't look down' in my head to myself.

It was worth it though. Graville Island was, again, another tourist hotspot but it was big enough for it to not feel too busy (aside from the public market). There was also a lovely smell of fresh sea air; very different to the London air I'm used to.

I took the bus back to Downtown after though - walking along that bridge once was enough!


Richmond is where all the East Asian foods and stores are and I'm not going to lie - it felt like I was in Hong Kong. Cantonese was the main language here, though most shop assistants were bilingual. The best part of Richmond? The many food outlets. My friend, who is a huge foodie, recommended countless places and none of them disappointed.

Grouse Mountain

Before I landed in Vancouver, my main goal was to see some grizzly bears. Whistler is the recommended place for nature but the foodie friend mentioned previously said Grouse Mountain is smaller but just as good in the summer.

I spent a good ninety minutes stalking these two grizzly bears (Grinder and Coola) and got a few cute shots, including the one above where Grinder is looking straight at me. (Grinder is the smaller one.) I did catch Coola having a little bathe in the pond too!

The views were incredible from Grouse Mountain - the Sky Ride up was a tense one but so worth it! I even managed to look down which made my heart pound a bit faster but with it only being a few minutes ride, I decided to take that risk of raising my heart rate ;) 

The view you see above is looking south, over the city centre and beyond. 

But the holy grail picture is the next one...

A photo with the lumberjacks! There is a thrice daily lumberjack show where two guys compete against each other. There was a fair bit of adult humour and quite a lot of kids in the audience which meant some of the jokes didn't get the recognition they deserved. One of my friends, who had visited Vancouver a few weeks' prior on holiday, told me that I really must get a photo with the lumberjacks so I did! 

All in all, the week in Vancouver was more than enough time to see everything, from the hidden spots to the tourist friendly locations. Other places I visited were the University of British Columbia campus, Yaletown and Queen Elizabeth Park. It was nice to get away from London and the hectic nature of my life here but at the same time, I was also happy to come home. Solo traveling is nice but there's nothing quite like being back with friends and family. 

14 Aug 2017

my week #278

This post is a bit late this week as I was on a mammoth 68 hour week! Anyway, I came off nights this morning and now get a week off for my efforts which is nice.

It's been a tough week as I've been asleep when my friends and family are awake and vice versa. And being the only doctor on dedicated ward cover at night is pretty scary! I'm well supported though as my seniors keep reassuring me that I can ask all the questions I want.

How has your week been?

9 Aug 2017

two books: a little princess by frances hodgson burnett and the problem with forever by jennifer l. armentrout

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

As mentioned in last month's review of Goodnight Mister Tom, one of my goals this year is to read three classic novels and here is number two: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Last year, I read The Secret Garden for the first time (I know, I know, I'm having a second childhood with all these books!) and loved it so it made sense to pick this one up.

The edition I own is the Rifle Paper Co edition and the cover design was totally what made me buy it. The inside is just as beautiful with illustrations dotted throughout the book.

A Little Princess is about a young girl called Sara who grew up in India while it was still a British colony. She is sent to a boarding school in England and although she is used to a life of luxury, is actually very down to earth. However, one day, tragedy strikes and she ends being a poor orphan due to the unfortunate and premature passing of her father. We follow Sara as she is forced to work for free under the Mistress of the boarding school.

What really made this book for me were the illustrations and the cover. The plot was okay though I didn't really warm to any of the characters so the only thing that got me through were the beautiful drawings that would appear once or twice in each chapter. Overall, A Little Princess gets 7/10 from me.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

I'm going to begin with this: I rarely cry when reading. Even when the plot is designed to try and make the reader shed a few tears, my tear ducts still hold strong. The Problem with Forever is one of the exceptions to that rule (throughout the years, I'm pretty sure this is only the second or third book to make me actually bawl like a baby).

The book centres on two teenagers: Rider and Mallory (or Mouse as she is sometimes called by Rider). They are foster kids who have been through a whole load of terror earlier in their childhood. Separated for the last four years after they were 'rescued' from a home of horror, Mallory now lives with new foster parents; both doctors. She decides to brave public school for the first time after being home-schooled and that's where she meets Rider again.

Cue all the feels.

It is clear the love and affection these two teenagers have for each other. I mean, they already had one things in common: arguably the worst part of their respective lives.

As we find out more about how both of them have coped (or not) in the previous four years, we are also led along a path of heartbreak in the present too. Not only for them but for the other characters too. Jennifer Armentrout also does an excellent job of writing about Mallory's anxiety in a realistic manner and in no way glamourises it.

This is one of the best teen/young adult novels I've ever read and I would not hesitate to recommend it if you like something that isn't your teenage romance novel. The last quarter of the book had me in tears! If I could rate this book more than 10/10, I would but for now, it will have to make do with full marks.

6 Aug 2017

my week #277

So, I've somehow survived my first week! There have been more good moments than bad ones so I'm counting this week as a success. I'm really enjoying the added responsibility compared to when I was a medical student. Being a foundation year 1 doctor is just about being organised and well... You guys know how I feel about that! (I do love a to-do list!)

I now go onto a seven day week which entails 68 hours of work (minimum) so wish me luck! I get a week off after though; a week I'm filling with friends and family.

How has your week been?

2 Aug 2017

beginning a new chapter of my life: goodbye medschool, hello foundation years

Just a mere four years ago, I was preparing for a new degree: Medicine. I still remember my first day at medical school like it was yesterday; from the moment I woke up to the moment my head hit the pillow later that night. And now, I've somehow made it and become a doctor. How time flies? It's scary, yet exhilarating. Nerve-wracking, yet filled with excitement.

Throughout my first two and a half years at medical school, I never thought I'd ever feel ready to be a doctor. Now, with every signature comes responsibility; with every action I do, there has to be justification and with every patient who I care for as part of a team, they'll always remember me as their doctor even if I don't remember them as easily. This is scary. But by the time my penultimate year was halfway through, I began to feel less apprehensive and more appreciative of what a privilege it is to be in this profession. And by the time I came to do my assistantship placements in final year, I felt ready. Even if this is a pretty dark time to start work for the National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK and I touched upon it back in January 2016 here...

A little part of me is sad to no longer be able to say 'I'm only a student' but considering I'm now 26 years old, it's about time I grew up! Over the last four years, boy, have I done a lot of growing. My views on the world have changed considerably, my outlook in life is very different (much more optimistic and less apprehensive of new opportunities) and my self-confidence has increased (though that part of me still has a bit of growing left to do).

These next two years will also fly by; a lot of my seniors reassure (or scare?) me about this. And with them, I intend to grab every opportunity that comes my way; just like I did at medical school. 

For me, I learnt these five things over the last four years that will stay with me forever:

1. Grab every opportunity that comes your way. You may never get that chance again.

2. Say yes to everything (within reason). As a student, if I was asked to insert a cannula/catheter, etc, I never once said no. 

3. Remember to rest. I'm a workaholic by nature and need to feel productive. But I've learned to rein this in from time to time. 

4. You'll never know everything and that's ok... As long as you can admit this and still possess the desire to want to learn more and question everything. 

5. Even in the worst of times, it will be better soon. 

Life is undoubtedly going to get a lot busier for me but I still intend to keep this blog going :)

Above: some Instax films taken when I did a day as a tourist in London; post-finals, pre-foundation programme!

30 Jul 2017

my week #276

This week felt very strange - we had four intense and long days of induction and it felt much more than four days. It was an interesting week though and it was nice getting to know the other foundation  year 1 doctors who we will be working with over the next twelve months.

This weekend has been filled with life admin and just relaxing while I still can...! Tomorrow and Tuesday are 'shadowing' days before the fun and fear sets in properly on Wednesday...

How has your week been?

27 Jul 2017

my study week #25: an old pre-clinicals notebook, part II

This may be my last study week for a while! Though the learning never stops in medicine, because I'm not technically in full-time education anymore, it's quite hard to make it a monthly feature without the guarantee of decent content.

Anyway, last month, I talked about a similar notebook and here is another from the same pre-clinical year. These notebooks were from Artbox. Again, this was used for problem-based learning (PBL) but this one is a lot more colourful with a few more embellishments in the form of cute sticky notes.