Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween everyone! I'm not an avid celebrator of Halloween, but it can be a fun holiday.

If you want some Halloween based science you should check this out: Some great videos, adding to those that have previously done by the team in previous years.

I had a really great weekend. Didn't get any photos of the Ramsoc walk at Bakewell, I wasn't being lazy - there is a good reason! It was grade 1 training weekend at the club so some of the leaders were busy with that, so there weren't enough leaders to run all the walks this week - so I ended up doing a walk 4 (slightly further than I would have chosen to walk but it turned out to be really good!). Just before we got to our drop off point I was asked if I wanted to help lead the walk, so I had a quick look at the map to start planning the route before we got there - and off we went.

I really enjoyed it, it only rained a bit at the beginning and the sun came out by the end which is always good! Although the walk was longer that what I've been doing this year there wasn't a huge amount of ascent in it so we managed to keep a good pace going throughout and didn't have any major nav issues. The group was really great too so that made an already good walk even better. We got back to Bakewell with over an hour to spare to plenty of time for fish and chips and a visit to the pub! The result of leading the walk is that I am now a grade 2 leader for Ramsoc. Can't wait to lead to some more walks!

Here's my star to show I'm a leader!

Unfortunately have to miss next week's walk to Edale, has to be one of the best places in the Peak District for walking, but thankfully we visit the surrounding area a few times over the year. I won't be there as a week today I'll be at the hospital, so it makes sense to spend the weekend at home. I've got a combination of nerves and excitement now - knowing that by this time next week (assuming the clinic isn't running ridiculously late!) my "fate" will be decided and I'll know what's going to be happening over the next few weeks and months and can plan accordingly!

That does mean that this is my last Monday officially off, as I've got appointments next week and then, assuming all is good, labs start the following week (its been over 6 months since I've last been in a lab!). I'd like to say that I've had a remarkably productive morning - I've already done the washing, cleaned my walking boots, tidied up and cleaned out the hamster. Sounds good, but I have been slightly hampered by the fact I dropped the lid of the hamster tank/cage thing (which made a very loud bang) and managed to break it, so cue an unscheduled visit to the pet shop to buy a new hamster cage! It's slightly bigger than the old one (and did come with free food and bedding), hopefully Ned'll enjoy it as I've just spent over a weeks food budget on it!

My plan for the rest of the day is to keep ticking things off my to-do-list; I need to head into uni at some point to deliver a letter (I refuse to buy a stamp to post a letter to somewhere that close!), and hopefully I'll be able to curl up later and watch a DVD, probably something by Tim Burton seen as it's Halloween!

Have a good day everyone :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Just a very quick post today - GSK lecture was really good, they were definitely promoting themselves a bit - but as it was interesting, and they are funding the module i think we can let them off. It would appear the medicinal side is going to be just as interesting as I was expecting, although I think I'm going to have to brush up on my organic synthesis! Really looking forward to next week's lecture!

I feel I have to share the picture of the cake that GSK sent us...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Having had solid lectures/tutorials from 9-1 and been working solidly since then I decided it was time for a break so I thought I'd write a blog. A post of mixed feelings today - all shall be explained!

Firstly, the cold that I was hoping wouldn't get too bad most definitely hit me over the last few days, thankfully I seem to be passed the worst of it but I spent a most of Monday, and as much time as possible yesterday in bed. It's an inconvenience as, hey - who likes having a cold? and it means I have a bit of a backlog of lectures etc. to go over but I'm more worried about it from a general health perspective. In my first year at uni I had a cold which died away but never quite disappeared and, after various other treatments, ended up having to have surgery as one of my sinuses had got so badly infected. Last year similar symptoms were appearing after a cold but being wary I caught it early and some antibiotics cleared it up before anything had the chance to take hold! Hoping this year I can avoid it all together - don't want to be having respiratory type problems with a potential impending arm op...

Continuing on with the general grumpiness I am having a bad arm day. Just getting frustrated to be honest. I'm doing a lot of physio exercises (which are remarkably tiring!) but don't seem to be making any progress now, all it does is give me a sore arm. I'm getting fed up of not being able to write neatly/quickly/for prolonged periods as its massively increasing my work load (having not kept on top of things for a few days due to the cold, as of this afternoon I've found myself with 9 hours of lectures that I need to go over and make notes from!), once this is done there's no time left for any extra reading or anything, not to mention listening to certain lectures again really does make one lose the will to live! And that's before you get on to all the other things that it gets in the way of. I know it could be worse, and I'm thankful that I'm not one of the many people that have to deal with things much more horrible, but it's enough to get you down after a while.

Less than 2 weeks now until I see my consultant again. As I said the other day I'm already pretty nervous about it to be honest, and every time my mind goes a wandering (which is an all too frequent occurrence...), that's where it's drifting too. Having had my doubts, I'm getting more and more keen on having more surgery to try and improve matters. Yes, surgery itself is pretty scary, and it's going to be a long recovery with lots of hard work required (made even worse by the fact its in the middle of my 3rd year at uni)!, but its a price I'm willing to pay to have my hand back (although realistically it's probably never going to be the same :( ). Just hoping that it can be scheduled at a time reasonably convenient for me (i.e. not his current best idea which is early January and right before exams!), and preferably not one of his other ideas which was wait until next summer - that's a long time! Anyway, nothing new has actually happened except in my head so I'll update you in due course as to how I get on...

Onto more positive things, these have kept me happy for the last couple of days! :-)
My deciding on a vague career direction has now progressed such that I'm in the process of applying for some work experience. I'd like to do it sooner rather than later but in the most part I'm waiting 'til the summer to actually do it (the arm strikes again!), but the main program I'm applying for gets quite popular over the summer so have to get in early! My aim is to do lots of small things (i.e. a day or a week somewhere) rather than longer placements as it means I can experience a bigger variety of environments, and from my work experience at Easter (that was only a week too), I found that within a couple of days I had found out almost everything I wanted to know anyway! I shan't go into the specifics of where I'm applying yet (although a few of my friends already know!), I shall reveal in due course if I'm successful but needless to say it'll be awesome if i get in! Although if all goes well it'll put me on a very long and hard career path!

Can't write a blog without mentioning Ramsoc - despite feeling pretty rubbish (and a lot more rubbish afterwards) I had a great walk at Ladybower on Sunday. Got a bit windy on the summits but we stayed dry which is all you can ask for in October! I didn't take my camera but did have new and improved iPhone camera...
We started right at the other end of that reservoir...

And here we are walking along, almost at the half way point on the walk (with 1 quite big hill still left to climb!)

Oh more thing - Drug Discovery module starts tomorrow (does mean sacrificing my day off on a Thursday!), really looking forward to this as it has the potential to be interesting and quite fun - not to mention we've been promised a free lunch including cake after the first lecture!

I best get back to work now then - thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Seen as the weather's turned cold (although thankfully not too wet yet!) I thought I'd share a nice summery picture to make everyone feel a bit warmer inside...

Almost time to start hitting the books - I need distracting from this cold - feels like I've eaten sandpaper; and from impending hospital trip - just over 2 weeks to go and I'm already nervous, might be an interesting couple of weeks if I feel like this already!

Anyway, that's all I wanted to share today :-)

Friday, October 21, 2011


Well folks it's Friday! It's been a funny sort of week (and thanks to a friend of mine that has to be send in a stereotypical yorkshire accent!). Having only got back to Nottingham midway through Tuesday it's gone very quickly, but at the same time I'm more than a little bit tired...

Rather than my normal Thursday off (although that's all change next week anyway) I had to go into uni to have a DSA needs assessment. All went well so just have to wait for approval from Student Finance (might take a while knowing them...!) but provisionally there should be some extra funding coming in my direction for various things to make my life a bit easier; also looks like I'll be getting some money from them to partially fund the laptop I bought over the summer which is very excellent news!

Another arm related appointment today (getting fed up of going to that building now!), saw my disability advisor to make arrangements for exams, again, all went well. He's a great guy - glad to have someone like that on my side! The result of that meeting is that I now have lots of support in place should I need it come January exams (all dependent on surgery etc.!)

On the down side I'm finally succumbing to "fresher's flu", hopefully I won't get it too bad because I have lots and lots of work to do over the weekend (yay!) and should be going out and about with Ramsoc again :) Hoping that getting a good night's sleep combined with drinking copious amounts of tea (and will no doubt be on the lemsip later...) will help ward the worst of it off. Either way tomorrow will have to be spent working through the mountain of notes I now have to write up as well as 1 tutorial question which has me stumped!

Other than that I can't say much else has been going on. Just wanted to finish on a couple of hand photos. Thought I'd test out the new iPhone camera as well as show off!
First off - almost straight fingers! It takes an awful lot of concentration and I haven't worked out the dexterity yet but it's definitely progress!

Secondly, this was more of a challenge and didn't last long but muchos physio means I have enough strength in my hand to hold an empty mug for long enough take a photo (again, doesn't sound like much but I'm happy!)

Just need to get my thumb going now...

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


And I'm back in Nottingham again! To set the scene I'm now sitting in my slightly chilly room (which I expect will be very chilly by the morning because we're poor students who can't afford heating...) with a hot water bottle and my super cosy jumper which is like being permanently hugged!

Really enjoyed my weekend at home, not that I did much but its just nice to be back sometimes. Other than my bike ride the only really notable event was the delivery of my new phone - decided to upgrade my almost ancient iPhone 3G with the new shiny far I'm loving it, the voice recognition is definitely my favourite feature as it saves pressing things with my non-working hand! Can't believe how much faster it works than my old one, only negative feature so far is the battery life - using facebook, twitter etc. seems to drain it very fast although I expect that'll improve after a charge cycle or 2...

This morning was my trip to hand therapy - they were very pleased with my progress (I hadn't noticed much to be honest, I guess it's just improved gradually so I didn't realise!), 3 out of my 4 fingers scored 0 degrees (that's the best as it means they go straight, although that doesn't take the strength into account) and my middle finger got a 6, so not too bad. Hopefully my thumb'll catch up as that's still got a 30 degree lag, have 3 weeks before my I see my consultant and we decide about surgery so the possibility has now at least been raised that I might get away without another operation...

Also had my grip tested today - right hand 36 and left (which, being my dominant hand, should be higher) is still down at 10 (although no idea what that's measured in), still down on wrist strength too, all this means that my already intensive physio regime has been intensified! It's going to be hard work but if it's going to help I'm definitely willing to put in the effort!

Just have the matter of uni to contend with in the mean time - so far it seems to be going well this term (I expect that'll change when labs start and I have less time and more work!), although I'm getting very conscious of how easy it'll be to fall behind with everything so have to make sure I keep working hard (even if there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I feel I need to do plus sleep!. I've got an ever growing to-do list of work amongst other things, not good seeing it at the beginning of the day but very satisfying ticking things off!

On the plus side, I'm honing in on what sort of thing I want to do "when I grow up", does mean I'm going to have to work even harder, and I could do with getting some sort of work experience (although probably need 2 working hands first!). Hopefully having a goal in mind again will help to keep me motivated - definitely need something too on days where we don't finish lectures 'til 6pm!

Until there are more things to report...goodbye!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I know I said I wouldn't post again this week but I couldn't resist. I will keep it short though.

I'm very much enjoying home (there's lots of food for one thing!). Being home means I'm always with a few metres of my bikes, and sitting in my room looking out of the window I just couldn't ignore them...

Today may have been a perfect day for a long ride on the road bike, had my riding season not ended rather abruptly in early July today would have been a very good candidate for my first 100 mile road road, but as things didn't work out that way it was definitely not an option! But, although I have been advised that riding isn't a good idea at the moment I took the decision to go for a little pootle. Only did 4 miles, and not very fast so hopefully won't have caused any problems (other than the fact I now have a rather sore arm!). I expect that really will be the last time I ride a bike until I recover from surgery in December (assuming I go ahead with it...), but I can definitely hang the bikes up for winter happy now...

I never thought that riding a SS mountain bike (complete with slick tyres and backwards brakes) for 4 miles on the road would make me smile so much!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My weekend was a bit of a damp one, but still made it out to the peak district with Ramsoc - took the easy option of doing a walk 2 (definitely glad I did - that was hard enough work for me!), the weather was OK for the first half but then got wet, windy and cold! I didn't take my camera (due to the forecast), but still had my phone with me. Here's the view from The Roaches:

So far, uni has been pretty good this week (I did have Monday off!), definitely going to be enjoying some lectures a lot more than others this term - but thankfully the good ones out weigh the bad! Haven't heard from the note taking people yet, and another addition to the group of lecturers who don't do powerpoints or handouts and rely solely on writing made today far more difficult than it should have been!

That said, contrary to what you might think, it's not the writing that is causing me the most problems. It's the small things that I can't do anymore that make it frustrating - things like carrying a drink, using a light switch and tying shoe laces. All things that I could do not only before the accident, but before I had surgery. I know they did their best, and it's just one of those things that happened but that doesn't mean I'm OK with it, an operation to explore (and hopefully mend) an injury shouldn't result in things being considerably worse. Before: 2 non-straightening fingers; after: 4 non-straightening fingers, a dodgy thumb, a weakened wrist and on-going pain. So clearly something didn't go to plan. And it's the same consultant that wants me to let him loose again...I'd be unlucky for things to go wrong twice though right?

3 and a half weeks 'til I see my consultant again, and we make the "what next?" plans; after a considerable amount of thought and deliberation, and despite the still on going doubts, I can't see how I could say no if he offers to go ahead with the next surgery (which was the plan before I left for uni). I was willing to take the risk before, and now I'm in a worse position so it should be a no brainer - I want my hand working again!

Actually, I'd say it's closer to a need than a want. I may have spent much of the last 2 years complaining about labs (yes I know undergrad labs are not like "real" labs), but I always did quite well, and had fun in my brief experience of a proper lab too. So whichever route I go down (Bsc vs MChem vs PhD), as that is still to be decided, I would like to think that I will, for at least a while, end up working in some sort of lab doing some sort of chemistry; and as much as I have enjoyed aspects of chemistry which lend themselves quite well to "thought experiments" and computational chemistry, I'd like to be able to do "real" chemistry and play with chemicals - not sure I'll be much good at that with 1 and a bit working hands though...

I seem to have been rambling a bit again, probably ought to stop now! I'm off home this weekend (as I have a hand therapy appointment early next weekend), it'll be nice to have a few days away from Nottingham and back with the family (I've had to promise my Grandma I won't speak to any strangers on the train home!), so assuming there's no drama's I expect I won't be blogging again until sometime next week...

So until then - hei hei! (which I'm assured is goodbye in Finnish...)

Friday, October 7, 2011


Well I've been back at uni proper for a week now so I thought a blog post was in order...

I have to say, overall its been a pretty good week - and nice to be back in the swing of things! Perhaps one of the more surprising things from the week has been that we've had 2 organic lectures, and I've actually enjoyed them! Just as well really as it counter-balances the 2 lectures we've had on solid state chemistry (which I remember as being almost interesting in first year...) - they can be described as nothing less than soul destroying! Pretty sure the lecturer is new, so hopefully the lectures might improve!

Don't want to go into a detailed account of all my lectures this week (as I'm sure you'll just find that really boring!), but I thought it was noteworthy that we have one of our 1st year lecturers again - our first impressions were "oh no, this is going to be bad!", but it turned out to be quite the opposite. I'm sure the man in question will go down as a legend in the chemistry department, somehow he manages to make copying down pages and pages of stuff from the board interesting! Although perhaps I particularly enjoyed it this week because I knew I had a friends notes to photocopy (seen as I can't write well enough) so I just sat and paid attention to what was being said, rather than panicking about getting everything down - I think his lectures may become the highlight of my week at uni!

On the subject of taking notes, having just about managed this week, uni are going to provide me with a note taker for a couple of modules next week, just to make it a bit easier for me. That said, my current system of just copying down things from the board (or photocopying someone else's notes) and then listening to lecture again and taking notes from the recording (with the aid of the pause button), means that, although a very time consuming job, I am ending up with a very good set of notes at the end! (Although apparently not a good enough set of notes that I can do any of the tutorial work we've been set thus far...).

Being a Friday, and because I have a 3 day weekend I'm at lot more cheery now than I was earlier (having the usual argh work is hard/don't know what I want to do after uni etc. feelings) but that's all pushed to the back of my head now, so - away from uni stuff The weather's looking a bit damp for tomorrow so I don't suppose I'll be going very far, although I really need to go shopping... Sunday on the other hand is ramsoc day! Managed to get one of the last places on the walk - this week we're off to The Roaches, an area I've not been to before so really looking forward to it. Hoping to take a spare map with me on the walk so I can practice my map-reading without the responsibility of actually leading! Weather depending you can expect some photos to appear from that at some point...

But for now, I'm starving (apparently a cereal bar is not a substantial enough lunch!) so off to "make" some bolognese (or at least just heat up the portion my mum sent me up to uni with!).

Monday, October 3, 2011

3/10/11 - Ramsoc

The morning after Ramsoc walk number 1 - I always forget how much you ache the next day!

I was up nice and early yesterday, excited by the promise of a walk in the sunshine; it turned out ti be cloudier than we were initially hoping but we were thankful for that as we were still roasting on the ascents!

Ramsoc offers a choice of 5 (or 6) walk, with 1 being the easiest - I picked 3 as it looked scenic but not too strenuous. It didn't take long for us all to be huffing and puffing our way up the first hill (Lose Hill), glad to see I'm not the only one who lost a lot of fitness of the summer! Thankfully most of the walk was along the ridge, so once we'd got the "big" climb out of the way it was just gentle ups and downs.

This provided a great opportunity to catch up with some old Ramsoc friends as well as make some new ones (never ceases to amaze me how many chemists there are in Ramsoc - 4 of us out of about 14 on the walk were!); also provided so very nice views! Some of which I managed to take a half decent photo of:

Next was supposed to be a nice gentle descent into Castleton, via the castle - but the leaders missed a turn and we were confronted by a "chasm" instead! The first bit wasn't too bad, just required some balance and bum sliding!
It's steeper than it looks:

We came down the right hand side...

The next bit was much trickier (particularly with only one arm available for holding on!), I didn't get any pictures as I thought it might be a good idea to put the camera safely away, but it was steeper, narrower and with a path of loose rocks and earth! Thankfully we all made it down safely and it wasn't too long before we were in the pub. Just as we got there it started raining (good timing!), felt very civilised having a cream tea!

Saw lots of very happy mountain bikers out and about too, made me a bit jealous but then I saw how many of them had Orange Fives so thought the better of it! ;-)

Next week is another walk; I might even be doing my first assessed walk for grade 2 leading (or I might wimp out...), something tells me the weather won't be quite as friendly though!

In the meantime - first proper week of uni (yay!), a lab talk thing this afternoon, and then lectures start for real tomorrow!