Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Waiting outside for my last exam...

The "highlights"

A look back over my 3 years at uni...

Year 1, autumn term:
I didn't adjust well to life at uni, spent many weekends at home and a lot of the time contemplating changing course or even dropping out.  I remember sitting on the stairs in the chemistry building talking to my now housemate about dropping out, we were both thinking about it, but somehow convinced each other to stick it out for a bit longer! The last few weeks I spent feeling pretty sorry for myself because "fresher's 'flu" turned into sinusitis, which I assumed was just a long running cold, and then sinusitis turned into a giant polyp ('cos for some reason I didn't notice it until it was huge).

This means the thing I remember most from term 1 was missing a couple of lectures (the first ones I'd missed I think!) to navigate the QMC (having had an urgent appointment made by my GP), and seeing an evil doctor.  She unnecessarily biopsied my polyp (which was a rather messy affair...), before getting "The Prof" who put me on the right track.

Christmas holidays: 
First week of the holidays and I was back in Nottingham to have surgery on my sinus.  Nearly didn't happen because we were late (the car park they told us to park in had been demolished).  I was a bit grumpy for a few days but it wasn't actually that bad.  Unless I sneezed. Well apart from the 2-3 times daily "cleaning" of sinuses, that wasn't a pleasant experience...

Spring term:
First lot of university exams.  These actually went OK. Decided that I should stay at uni (if I did badly I was all ready to abandon it!).  I pootled along through the year, and discovered Ramsoc, didn't go out with them much in first year but it was nice when I did!

Summer term: 
Exams!  Once again I did pretty well (averaged 74% if I remember rightly...).  Huzzah.  Survived first year!

Summer holidays:
Took part in my first few mountain bike races (and didn't lose!).  Spent much of this holiday working.  This was the summer where I heard the awful news that my lab partner had died.  I only knew him through labs, so wasn't friends with his close friends and so I never found out what happened to him.  I wouldn't say we were close, but we worked together for quite a long period, so it was still quite upsetting.  Poor Saf :(

Year 2, autumn semester:
I really started enjoying chemistry at this point, I think a successful run in labs helped.  I had 2 rotations before Christmas and both took some settling into before I felt happy but I did all right.  I was feeling so good at this point that I swapped courses, from the 3 year BSc to the 4 year MChem.  This was also the semester where I joined a cycling race team, so I was spending many weekends (and free time in the middle) out training, often with one of my team mates who lives quite locally.  This was something that really helped me I think. 

Spring/summer term:
Things carried on going well.  Can't remember much to be honest, so I assume that means nothing of note happened!  I did do a week of work experience in a lab over the Easter holidays, something else convincing me that maybe I really could be a chemist...
Exams, again went pretty well.  Averaged 72% which I was pretty happy with.  

I did the unthinkable and stayed at uni between exams finishing and results, rather than going home for a couple of weeks.  I really enjoyed this time.  I'm sure I must have blogged about it at some point.  The weather was reasonable so I spent a lot of time out on my bike exploring, and discovered the nature reserve where I took my camera and spent many hours photographing the wild life.

Summer holidays:
Life was good.  Racing had started again and training meant I was doing OK, and still improving so hope for a podium towards the end of the season?  Things were going to well weren't they?  Middle of the holidays I crashed my bike and broke myself, and any readers of this blog will know the details! Hmph.

Year 3, autumn semester:
Arm issues led to certain difficulties at uni, but I was coping OK, with help from so really great people.  Labs turned out to be rather unenjoyable though, part of this was that my project assignments had been made with my arm in mind, which was fair enough, but I just didn't enjoy the project.  It wasn't difficult, and I did really well in it, but I don't think that way of working is for me!  I switched back to the 3 year course, I couldn't see myself doing a 4th year project.  Ramsoc really kept me going through this term - I walked with them nearly every Sunday and qualified as a grade 2 leader.  Great stuff.

Spring/summer term:
Exams weren't a big disaster, but they were the worst set of exam results I'd ever received (and I think they'd have been worse without coursework in one module to help the average a bit!).  The way my labs and modules had been chosen/organised meant that this semester was a bit fuller than before Christmas, so much of it was spent feeling more than a little bit stressed...  Really not helped by the fact my arm was getting worse (and still is...).  As the term went on the work load seemed to be increasing (darn my stupid module choices...), and I was conscious the whole time that I really needed to start preparing for exams if I was going to make up for the spring ones.

Ramsoc took a back seat because I just couldn't afford to give up a whole Sunday to do something fun.  I really missed my bike too.  Just to get out for an hour or so every so often would have really helped I think!  I did go sky diving though.  This was a big thing for me, it was an amazing experience and I tend to think of it when I'm struggling "if I can jump out of a plane I can do this...".

I did give up some time over Easter to volunteer with the audit team at the local hospital (although this was cut short so I could catch up with work!).  

The last few weeks have been the most difficult I think.  I've had too many arm-related appointments, although thankfully there is at least some hope now, and potential for the prognosis to be a lot better than I had been left with by my previous consultant.  Then there has been too much panic about exams/coursework.  I know the level of panic was too much because however important the results are panic attacks shouldn't be part of a "normal" exam experience!  

Still.  It's all over now.

I've worked out that if I've got 0 on both exams and the coursework I get 58% overall for my degree (unlikely!) and if I get 100% on everything I can get 78% (probably more unlikely!).  Really hope I did enough to get a 1st - I expect it's going to be a close call, 3 weeks and a day until I find out...

The end:
I suspect most of the chemistry I've learnt will very rapidly be forgotten (in fact I'm pretty sure a lot of it has been already!), but I've learnt some valuable lessons in my 3 years at Nottingham.  As well as the "life lessons" I've learnt a lot about learning which I'm sure will be useful if I make it to med school.

I know if I was to start again I'd tackle first year differently.  Don't get me wrong, I took it seriously (unlike a lot people who seemed to take the view that 'cos it doesn't count it's for drinking and partying not learning), but I went about it trying to learn in the wrong way.  Consequently come second and third year I've always felt like I've had catching up to do because I'm missing the basic knowledge which underpins *everything*.  Let that be a lesson to anyone who's starting uni soon...

One of the big take away messages (along with the phrase "take away message"!) has been about self-confidence.  I've often doubted myself, and suspect I still will, but it's important to get passed that. When I said the other day "Yeah, but loads of people could have done the same", my friend replied "Yes, but they haven't, you're the only one that's done what you've done".  A nice positive way to look at things I thought!

My other "lesson" has been that it's the little things that matter.  Sure it may be the big things that have stuck out when I've been writing this, but know that I wouldn't have got this far without all the little things.  Words people have said, laughs we've had and things I've seen!

So thanks Nottingham - it's been an "eventful" few years!  So long, and thanks for all the fish...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012


Another day where I feel like I'm melting.  Clear skies over campus...

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Clear blue skies over Nottingham (view from my very warm bedroom!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows!
Well we had sunshine anyway:

Friday, May 25, 2012


Here's one photo from tonight's FNSS race.

The rest can be seen at:

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Bit early in the morning for a blog post but I've been thinking about this for a while and it's important.

I don't know if regular followers of this blog have noticed a difference over the last few months, but I have.  I started this blog with an intention of sharing my thoughts and opinions, mainly related to me.  I think posting every day, along with a photo, has changed this.  The thought processes which go through my head each day regarding posts are different, and the content is becoming less true to myself.  I always maintained that this would be somewhere where my real feelings and perhaps my inner most thoughts could be recorded, often because the process of writing it down is quite cathartic.

That's no longer the case.  My blog content has always been honest, and I like to think it always will be, but there are many things, that perhaps would even make for good reading, which I haven't talked about (some of which are lurking in the deepest, darkest corners of my brain and others that I just didn't want to talk about).  For one reason or another, these are things which I don't intend to share.  It may sound silly but I don't feel I can legitimately carry on writing as I have been, whilst keeping things hidden away.

Combine this with much discussion recently about the merits of online anonymity and I have decided that I am not going to continue with this blog in the same format.

I am going to continue posting a daily photo as this was something I set out to do for a year and I am now almost 5 months in to this.  I'll carry on posting about any running I do, and rides if I ever get back on a bike.  I'm hoping to watch (and photograph) some mountain bike races in the near future so I'll probably talk about that too. I expect I'll give in to temptation and there'll be the occasional "real" post,  but on the whole I'm going to take a step back from this, at least for the foreseeable future.

Before I go I just wanted to say thanks, there are a few people who I know read this blog who have offered me tremendous support over the last few months and I don't know where I'd be without them.  Thanks to those that have perhaps been more of a "lurker" and have been reading too.  It always made me happy to watch the blog view stats climbing.

So, erm...goodbye I guess!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I got off to a good start with coursework this morning.  Powered through a question and a half (I say "powered" it did take over 3 hours but that was quicker than yesterday), so I went for a celebratory walk to Sainsbury's along the canal just so I could enjoy the sun and have a bit of a break.

Lots of canal boats were about.  It was a nice walk :-)

I got back to the house and decided to get on with more coursework while I was on a role.  The next 4 and a half of hours of my day pretty much sums up why I enjoy organic chemistry, but at the same time what I don't like about it!

Going through various synthesis problems is often a real challenge, and can take a lot of work to solve them.  I enjoy solving problems.  Today however, I have spent 4 and a half hours pushing arrows, reading in text books and searching the web and have made almost no progress.

Most people, I assume, would have given up long before me but I couldn't let it go.  I tried to do some revision on another subject but couldn't focus on it, my brain kept wandering back to the "big conundrum".  I know how much better I'll feel when I have the answer so I can't leave it unfinished.  At least until I have exhausted *all* possibilities for finding it.  There are some scenarios in which I could give up, but this isn't one of them.  The particular step I'm struggling with is worth 1 or 2 marks out of 85, and it's not even the marked bit that I can't do, I want the mechanism which wasn't actually asked for so it's not even about that marks, but because it's been set on a piece of coursework I assume that there must be a solution, so the hunt for it isn't futile!  

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, but everything I've tried so far has lead to a dead end.  I'm having to update this from my floor because work has taken over my bed, where I normally sit and work. Lecture notes, tutorial questions, textbooks and many scribblings.

This will be worth the effort...I will find the answer...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I've turned my brain to mush with work and haven't even made it to the end of the the first question of my coursework so thought now would be a good time to update the blog.

Summer has arrived!  At least temporarily.  So having got to the half way point in Q1 I decided a walk to Sainsbury's was in order to buy something for lunch.  Just because I wanted to get out in the sun really.

What a really lovely day...

With my only purpose of a visit to Sainsbury's being to get something for lunch, I succumbed to temptation and stopped in McDonalds instead (they're pretty much opposite each other!).  Decided to take my food and go and sit by the canal (the chocolate milkshake was really nice, for once the ice-cream-ness of it was appreciated!).

I was really enjoying my relaxing lunch until some geese abandoned the canal and started approaching.  I'm not a goose fan.  I was OK (although rather wary) when they were this close (there were 3 of them).  But then they got closer, and the one in the picture tried to steal my lunch!  So I jumped up and ran along the canal a bit so I could carry on eating in peace!  A couple of other (presumably) students who were sitting seemed to find the whole thing rather amusing!

As much as it pained me to do so I had to return back to the house and continue with work.  A few more hours and I have almost reached the end of the 1st question.  Just one more transformation to go!

Being now slightly fed up of trying to work out the same thing, and having a sore arm and being generally a bit warm I decided a break was in order.  Sadly break = revision!  Did have an e-mail which made me smile though so I'm not too grumpy!

The next few days will either involve me being very quiet on the blog while I panic and try and get work done, or I may end up writing lots as I try to distract myself from it!

Enjoy the nice weather folks!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Well as you know today was the day of my first exam, and I was a bit nervous about it!

I met my new scribe at 11am (5 and a half hours before the exam!), I cam away with no reason to complain so I was a bit happier about the whole thing, although as the day went on I was getting more and more panicked - what if they do what they usually do an *ask* all the things that I don't know?  What if using a scribe turns out to be an epic fail? Argh!

My scribe cut it a bit fine and turned up just a couple of minutes before the start time, but that was OK.  1630 came so off we went.  I whizzed through the questions.  Tripped up by one (about isotopic scrambling), but I came back to it at the end and put down something which should get a few marks.

Dictating turned out to be OK, it means that my answers read a bit funny 'cos apparently I don't talk in the same way that I write, but hey it's a chemistry exam not English so that shouldn't matter!

Section C of the paper (worth 33%) was initially very confusing. It bore a very strong resemblance to one of the examples in the lecture notes, but was slightly different, and the difference meant that the electron counts and things all worked out a bit strangely too.  I did consider that it might be an error on the paper but it seemed like a strange thing to get wrong to I continued, assuming that he'd just tried to throw in a curveball. Just as I was checking through my answers to the rest of the paper someone came in and said that there was a mistake (I was right!) and I had to do that question *again*.

But, despite the repeating of that question, and the fact that dictating is bound to be slower than writing, I still finished before the end of "normal time", leaving with an hour and a half to go...  I'm hoping this is a good thing and I haven't really messed it up!

This means that I officially have a new lucky watch (to be confirmed with the title when we get results if all has gone well).  Up until this point I hadn't worn it, but today I thought I would...

With that out of the way I have until next Wednesday to get ready for my next (and last) exam.  And some coursework to do before Monday.  

Back to work for me then!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


So, tomorrow is exam day.

Really struggled to wake up this morning but Coco Pops and coffee got me going and I had a really productive couple of hours, going over a whole exam paper - attempting to speak most of the answers rather than write them seen as that's how my exam is going to be done (I am slightly worried I'll run out of time in the exam seen as I'll have to wait for someone else to write it down, but we'll see!).

After that things slowed down a lot.  I'm not panicking because I'm managing to answer enough of the past questions that I think I'll be fine (there's a few I struggle with but there's a choice of questions in the exam so should be able to avoid them...).  I'm not giving up on revision because, as I said before, I want to be confident by the end of today and not panicking too much tomorrow.

I've been a bit distracted by the cross country mountain biking world cup race going on today...

It's been so long since I've done any mountain biking that even the horrendous climb looks almost fun... Having not been anywhere today that's all you're going to get for a photo!

Hopefully I'll find the motivation to get going with it, and not sleep.  Perhaps it's ironic that it's chemistry contributing to keeping me tired, but also helping me.  So I'll end today with 3 quite different structures which become part of my day-to-day routine!  Bonus points if you can name them...

Saturday, May 19, 2012


A quick revision update:  Things seem to be going OK, there is still more left to learn at this stage than I would like but I'm getting there.  Still struggling with the idea of speaking answers in coherent sentences rather than writing them out though!  Not much else I can do to improve this so will just have to hope that as the answers start to become more familiar to me the words will come as well...

Have yet to leave the house today, but confirmation of my MRI appointment came today.  I know that the process of lying there and being scanned for however long it takes will most likely be rather boring but I'm still kind of excited about it.  Presumably due to the fact I have a vague understanding of the science behind it (and it is rather clever!), made even better by the fact the our admissions tutor took me on an impromptu tour of the Sir Peter Mansfield MRI centre on campus a couple of years ago. Combine that with the fact that being scanned seems to me like a reasonable step on the path to being mended and perhaps you can see why I'm looking forward to it!

Right, my enthusiasm has somewhat waned but I need to get back to work.  It would be nice if I can get most things sorted today so tomorrow is just brushing up on a few things and then Monday can involve no panicking, but if the last lot of exams are anything to go by I'm not optimistic! 

Friday, May 18, 2012


Figured now would be a good time to do today's post.  I'm just recovering from my revision break run.  

Running is what I wanted to talk about today anyway.  Going out for a 20 minute run round and about definitely lacks the adrenaline of mountain biking, but I see it as a similar "physical and mental feat" as road riding.  You need a certain amount of strength in your legs (and the rest of your body) and you definitely need a level of cardiovascular fitness but a lot of it is in the mind.

In my run today, I managed to knock off almost a minute, which I think it pretty impressive on a 3 km run.  That's because despite the burning of legs and lungs, for the most part I carried on pushing.  I know it's important not to push "too hard" 'cos I don't want to do myself an injury, and I think thats reflected in the fact that the last 2/3 of a km or so were slower than previous efforts but I worked hard enough early on to beat my time!

Despite now feeling a tad like I might die I feel good, like I've actually achieved something...hopefully the progress will continue!

A quick word on exams/revision - I feel like I'm still making (much needed) progress with learning stuff.  Although there is a long way to go which is a bit worrying seen as Monday is rather close!  I keep finding things which I'd brushed over as being small and insignificant but it turns out they are neither of those!  I'll keep plodding on though...

Slightly less worried about the scribe situation (emphasis on slightly!), I have had contact from my new scribe.  Difficult to tell from a couple of e-mails but he seems nice enough.  He's a final year organic PhD student so at least won't have the problems of not knowing about general structures and stuff.  Organised to meet him on Monday morning just so we can work a few things out, despite the fact that, unlike my previously allocated scribe, he hasn't had the formal scribe training, he has already asked questions like "what side do I want him to sit on?" so it sounds like he knows what he's doing.  As far as that question goes I have no idea!

Before I go, here's today's photo.  It's a really rubbish photo - I apologise for that!  Had to pop into the chemistry building to drop off some notes to a second year friend and there appeared to be exciting things going on!

Right.  Back to catalysis revision with me!

2012 running total: 19.1 km

(PS in other news had my MRI letter today - T-25 days until I get to experience "NMR" first hand!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Somewhat ran out of revision steam now so thought it would be a good time to write my blog post!

Progress has been slow, but at leas there has been progress.  Going over exam questions and stuff and I seem to be remembering a bit more, although there is still a very long way to go!  Such progress meant I've been a bit less grumpy today, which is always good, although as the day goes on it's creeping back in!  I suspect because most of the things that are I'm spending too much time worrying about aren't things which are going to stop bothering me any time soon so I should probably get used to!

At least exams will be over soon (less than 2 weeks until the end now!), so that'll be one less thing!

Other than a general feeling of not knowing enough (which I hope will slowly be resolved in the next few days!) I'm a bit worried about these exams for 2 reasons:

1) I've mentioned it before, I'll be using a scribe for the 2 exams I have.  Assuming I get over my general thoughts of not wanting to say something stupid (need to remember that although they know chemistry stuff and there is a good chance they'll know the answer, they're there to write for me, so I really shouldn't worry what they think about my knowledge or lack thereof!); it's look increasingly likely that the first time I meet the scribe (the new one, 'cos the one I met before was a mistake...) will be in my exam on Monday afternoon so I won't have had any practice with that way of working.  In an attempt to get ready I've been trying to answer exam questions out loud, or at least consciously thinking about it rather than just writing it straight down.  It turns out it's remarkably difficult - coherent sentences are apparently a lot more difficult to construct out loud rather than when putting pen to paper.  Hopefully the ability to speak my answers in a vaguely logical manner will come to me before Monday afternoon!

2) In a greatly appreciated attempt to not disadvantage me I am apparently having my own special exam papers, I'm told that where possible the need to draw chemical structures will have been removed on the basis of it being difficult to describe them to someone else to write for me (apart from in the biosynthesis option where it'd be impossible to take it out!).  This leaves me wondering what they'll be replaced with, as with previous years most of my learning will most likely come from going over past papers, but if my questions are going to be a bit different this will be of limited use 'cos I think I'm going to need to know more than perhaps I would otherwise (even if technically when sitting the "normal" paper I probably should have learned that much...) or at least it might be slightly different things that I need to know.  Hopefully, if I can get the basics (i.e. the stuff that's been asked in previous years) sorted with enough time to spare, I'll be able to spend some time going through things a bit more thoroughly and hopefully learning some extra details!

OK, I've waffled on about that a bit more than I intended so I'll wrap it up now!

Other than a quick trip to the shops this morning (no cereal, bread or milk made breakfast a bit interesting!) I haven't been out so I've been lacking in photographic inspiration, so here's Darth Vader "helping" me learn some stuff for catalysis...

That's all folks! (you'll have to imagine the Looney Tunes theme in your head here...)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Well now seems like as good a time as any to write today's post.

I seem to have got myself stuck in a bit of a perpetual grump.

I think there's a number of factors to be blamed mind:
*Impending important exams + coursework
OK, so things left to be done count for only 18.5% of my degree, but that's still a significant enough chunk that I need to do well when I'm on the borderline between a 1st and 2:1!  With my January exams being my worst ever exam results (they weren't that bad really, but it's below par for me) and I could do without repeating that experience!

*Associated revision
First exam is on Monday, I'm used to not feeling "ready" for an exam until a couple of days before but for various reasons I feel really quite under prepared at the moment.  I'll keep working at it obviously, and I'm sure I'll be fine (well I'm not "sure" but anyway), just need to focus and put the hours in for the last few days!

Proof I have been revising.  It's all maths and graphs and I don't like it!

*Job hunting
Whatever I end up doing I could really do with a job for the next year.  I'm probably being too fussy but struggling to find things I want to apply for, let alone things I have a chance of getting!

*Sore arm
Doesn't need much more saying about it!

*Being tired
Sure that will at least have improved if I get a decent night's sleep.

*General what to do with life-ness
I've been hit by a pang of self doubt again.  Probably brought on by the fact I've just registered to take my UKCAT (7 weeks today!).  If someone wants to decide for me it would be greatly appreciated!

*More arm related woes
After yesterday there has been what can almost be described as progress.  Well the consultant has a couple of ideas what the problem might be (both are rather heavily linked to mistakes previously being made with my care...).  If either of his suggestions are right I'll need more surgery.  But I don't find out for another 48 days (not that I'm counting...), having an MRI somewhere between now and then.  I don't  do waiting very well.  Especially as it means my appointment where I might finally get set on the road to being "fixed" is almost a year to the day since I crashed.  Things shouldn't take that long.  And that's only on the road to being'll be ages after that 'til I'm all sorted.  And that's only if it is one of the things he thinks it might be! (based on my saying ow when he poked various spots on my arm!)

OK, I'll stop complaining now, although that was rather cathartic!

I have in between bouts of moping managed to be almost productive.  Went and picked up my prescription, and dropped off the letter to give to my GP about new drugs which I don't think I actually want...

And I went shopping too.

Oh, and I went for a run.  10 seconds slower than my previous attempt at the same distance (3.1 km) , but that can be attributed to time waiting to cross the road right?  I did also set my fastest (and the fastest out of the 3 people that have ran it) time on the segment of the canal that I run along which was nice. Not sure I'll be walking tomorrow though!

Here's my proper photo of the day.  I think it's the Cripp's halls of residence building.  I walked past it on the way to the doctors.  Thought it looked nice in the sunshine :-)

Right, I probably ought to get back to revision (or "vision") as much of it seems to be!  Enjoy your evenings!

2012 running: 16.1 km 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Wow I was nervous this morning, I'm not sure what I was quite so worried about but it had hit me hard!

Arrived at the hospital 10 minutes before my appointment and checked in and took a seat.  Little did I know this would be my view for over 2 hours!

It later transpired that there had been some sort of admin error so although the computer in reception knew I was coming, and I'd been booked in on it I wasn't on the consultant's official list so I never got called!  I sat and waited going through various stages of nerves - shaking, feeling sick etc. I did go and ask at reception after an hour, "no, we haven't heard of any delays" and then again 45 minutes later (having had a conversation with a very nice elderly gentleman who used to be a doctor but is now rather poorly :( ) and witnessing a young boy throw up (and make a very big mess!).  

And so the mistake was noticed and my notes needed to be hunted down.  By the time I was called in (they let me in before my notes had been retrieved just so I could have a "change of scenery") my nerves had vanished so maybe it was a good thing!  I was seen in the end which is the important thing!

I haven't decided how I feel "post-seeing-consultant", but that's alright I don't have time to feel anything.  There's kinetics to be learnt! 

Monday, May 14, 2012


I'm not going to go on and on tonight because I feel like I've got a lot of work to do.  This time next week it's more than likely that I'll still be sitting in my first exam of the season (my extra time means it runs from 1630 to 1930!)

Having made notes for half of this module I decided it was too late in the game to start making revision notes for the second half seen as I'm probably not learning *that* much by writing so I started having a look at past paper(s).  Haven't even made it through one yet 'cos the questions don't link up very well to the notes (i.e. I can find related topics but not really an answer to the actual question), and it would appear that I don't remember very much so it's been slow going, but hey ho, I've got time.  I'll get there (I hope!)

Have also had a break to go swimming for my brother. I was going on the logic that swimming was supposed to be gentle exercise,'s not very gentle on the arm is it?

What I was going to talk about today, so I'll mention briefly, is a chat I had with someone via text last night.  I know a certain amount of what was said was trying to make me feel better (maybe getting a tad worried about my hospital appt. tomorrow!), but he said he thought I was brave, I replied that I wasn't but he insisted that based on what I've dealt with over the last year that he really admires my bravery.  Nope, definitely not.  There are many, many people who unfortunately get dealt far worse cards than me and do a whole lot better with them!  What I've done, I've done because there's not a lot of choice, and even then I've whinged about the whole thing quite a lot (as you are probably far too aware!).  Just thought I'd mention it anyway.

Before I go here is a gerbil picture (was going to get a picture of the pair of them but the other one won't sit still for long enough!)

Right, that's your lot from me.  I'll get back to panicking about revision, and tomorrow!  Enjoy your evening! :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


You nearly got a second post from me yesterday, having been feeling remarkably cheerful I ended up getting myself a bit worked up.  Even a TV program which I usually enjoy picked a bad week to involve a topic which has suddenly become a bit close to me.

So this morning I got up early to finish the notes from the first half of the module, I had hoped to have all the notes for the module done by tomorrow, 1 week until the exam.  Having got that out of the way early on I am now almost halfway into a Lord of the Rings marathon.  Not sure why, but I really fancied it.  

It seems to be doing a reasonable job so far and there are still many hours to go.

There isn't now too long to wait
2 sleeps to go 'til all is clear
2 more sleeps 'til I find my fate
Disappointment though is what I fear

In my head he is almost God
With many years beneath his belt
A long and tricky path he trod
To help me with what I was dealt

I will still maintain some hope
What I don't yet know cannot hurt
There is no point to sit and mope
To happiness I should revert

In the famous words of The Killers, "Everything will be alright".  I just need to stop being such a worrier! 

The boring lovey-dovey bit in The Two Towers is over and they're back to fighting to I'll stop writing now.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend folks, I know mine shall be...erm...well spent! :P

Saturday, May 12, 2012


A sunny Saturday :-)

Did a little bit of work reasonably early this morning before visiting the grandfolks, they're off on holiday on Monday and I'll be back at uni again when they come back.

Not wanting to waste the good weather I went for a run.  4.3 km.  Not too bad a pace either considering that's further than I've ever ran.  Had lunch and then did almost the same route (4.5 km) on the bike.  Not at any great speed, although I did get QOM of strava (being the only female who's done that segment yet...).  Legs feel remarkably good (better than my arm at any rate!).

Exercise and sunshine seem to have got me smiling again.

Something tells me I'm not going to get much work done this afternoon though...

2012 Cycling Miles: 52.72 miles
2012 Running: 13.12 km (8.2 miles)

Friday, May 11, 2012


I spent much of the morning in my usual cave of grumpiness and quickly retreated after a quick trip to the outside world where I was surprised by how cheery everyone was!

Due to a rather wandering mind, along with the usual issues it took me 5 hours to get through the notes from one lecture.  2 days to get through 2 more of those and then other half of the module...

My pondering today has been mainly about optimism vs pessimism.  Trying to decide which camp I'm lying in at the moment, seen as there's something I'm really hoping is going to happen but I know the chances are very slim.  Does it make me optimistic because I still have hope, maybe, (however small) that something that probably isn't going to happen might, or pessimistic because I think the chances are small (even if it's true)?

In the process of contemplating the optimism vs pessimism thing I've been thinking about the various possible out comes of the situation in question.  The result I'm hoping for really is just the best of a bad bunch.  I should stop spending so much time thinking about it because there's nothing whatsoever I can do about it at the moment, and a lot of it is a bit hypothetical anyway.  But I can't help it!

Anyway, having finally got to the end of this set of lecture notes I went to the cinema with my mum.  I like watching films, I've been watching a lot of DVDs recently.  I guess I like the way that you can get really engrossed in a story, whether something entirely fantasy or based on reality it's not "your" reality.

We went to see Dark Shadows, seen as I like Tim Burton and my mum is a big Johnny Depp fan it seemed like a good choice!  

Popcorn too!  

I'm not going to do a review or anything like that 'cos I'm not good at that sort of thing, what I will say is that it was a very "Tim Burton-y" film (as you'd expect), a strange mix of comedy, action and horror which in my opinion he does very well.  Although to me it seemed almost a bit like a parody of itself, it' s hard to describe and I don't want to spoil the film.  Definitely worth a watch if you like Burton's style though! 

Right, I should probably get back to work (do I have to?).  Next set of lecture notes is on catalysis in the polymer industry, or something like that.  Can hardly contain my excitement.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Perhaps my expectations are too high but I can't say as I've come away from my hospital appointment any happier than when I went in.

I've walked past the department many times at my local hospital, and the equivalent department in a couple of other hospitals too.  Always thought it'd be a depressing place to end up!

Bit of a waste of time really, was asked the same question 5 times (by the same person), poked a couple of times and then sent away with a letter to give my GP (60 miles away!) to get a prescription for something which I have no real idea what it is or even how often to take it etc.

And she spent 5 minutes at the beginning reading through my notes, I appreciate the necessity to read through them, but I'd rather have been sitting in the waiting room than sitting in there in an awkward silence while she did it.

If it wasn't for my appointment with a new (to me) consultant next week I'd be rather grumpy now.

More drugs on top of the seemingly vast quantities that I'm already supposed to be taking, none of which are going to contribute to "fixing" the problem.  Not just more drugs, this is another drug which is likely to make me drowsy (er) and seemingly has the potential to "mess with" my brain.  *grumble grumble*.

But, as I've said I'm seeing my new consultant next week.  I expect my faith in him is a bit premature and I really shouldn't get my hopes up but I can't help it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Well would you believe it?  I went for another run today.  Despite sore legs initially after yesterday's run they were feeling fine this morning and I actually wanted to get out and run some more!  I did the same 3 km route as yesterday, managed to find a bit more of a rhythm and knocked over 2 minutes off the time (bringing it down to 19 minutes) so it's slightly more acceptable now I think!

Today started with a biosynthesis workshop.  Despite getting half of the questions wrong (well not wrong 'cos I hadn't really answered them...) I feel a lot better about that exam at least, there were some things which I actually remembered.  Just lots more things I need to learn now!  Seen as that was my penultimate timetabled "thing" I thought I'd take another uni photo 'cos I won't be here much longer!

The workshop also gave me another chance to practice my right handed writing.  Actual words are apparently a lot more difficult than chemical structures but it is now legible.  Having not heard back from the relevant person who I e-mailed last Thursday I'm feeling no more confident about my scribe but if I continue to progress with being wrong-handed she can sit and get paid to do nothing whilst I'll do my exam and just be there as a bit of a safety net (or if I get really good at it I might even tell them not to bother and then I can sit my exam in a room with other people, even if it's not the "right" other people).  Avoiding the necessity of a scribe is appealing because not only do I know she won't do the technical bits I don't do thinking out loud.  All the exams I've ever done (well with the exception of French speaking exams) have been written and I'm very used to getting information down in that way, particularly in exams where a certain amount of improvisation and guess work is involved.  When questions involve maths, or organic synthesis that really is thinking by writing, and I often work it out as I go along.  That won't work when it's not me writing!

So being slightly closer to being able to write in one way or another does mean I'm slightly less panicking about exams now.  I know I have a lot to learn, but then I've often not really "learnt" stuff until a day or 2 preceding the exam.  Everything I'm doing now is laying the foundations, making sure I understand everything, and that it's in my head somewhere; and a couple of days going over questions should teach me where to find what I need in my head so I can get it out onto paper in the exam!

Still almost 2 weeks until the first exam anyway, and 3 until my second (and final) exam.  With a piece of coursework to do in the middle.  So I'll be fine (yes I'll keep telling myself that!).

Right.  All this talk of revision I should probably get back to it.  Time to tackle the Fischer-Tropsch Reaction in my catalysis course.  Need to get as much done as possible today because tomorrow involves going home again (even though I only just got here!) and a hospital appointment so don't expect much work will get done!

Stay safe folks :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I've been remarkably productive today and am now in dire need of a break from revision so thought I might do a proper blog post tonight!

I want to talk about cycling.  As you know I am a bit (well a lot...) limited as to how much I can do on a bike at the moment, and have been for some time.  I really miss it, it's something which had been slowly filling up more and more of my time as I was taking it more seriously with training and what not.  So I was always out on my bike.

I often find my mind wandering to those times...certain sections of single track always come to mind, as do a couple of specific road rides (one of which being a very damp 20 miles, split in to 2 10 mile TTs, racing myself.).

It has been suggested (and quite insistently by one person) that I should just get out and pootle one-handed 'cos I could go as far as I liked then, because it's still cycling.  I obviously don't know how other people feel about this, but to me that doesn't hold the same appeal.  Even now, however many months since I've ridden "properly", I don't want to go out on a bike and do that.  Maybe because I got into cycling through mountain biking.  Definitely can't do that one handed!  Mountain biking is a combination of speed, technique, and adrenaline.  Great fun! The road riding really started as a method of training - and therefore is about pushing myself and really working hard, and I guess therefore still getting a buzz from bikes.  So yes, I could go and ride 1 handed, just using the other hand to brake/steer/change gear when needed, but I know I wouldn't enjoy doing that, and I expect by forcing it upon myself it would just kill my desire to ride.  So for now I'm happy to dream. At least while I've still got hope of being "fixed" (seeing new consultant a week today!).  I do wonder how aforementioned insistent person would feel, and what he would do if faced with the same situation... 

In the mean time I need to get some exercise (I am becoming increasingly aware of how unfit I'm getting!) and I need to go outside because I don't do cooped up very well.  So a couple of weeks since my first run I thought I'd go out again today.  Did 3 km (I'm going to have to get used to metric now I'm using Strava!).  I felt a lot better about it than last time, although don't think I was much faster (difficult to compare because it was almost the same distance but a different route).  I'm definitely not someone that "does" running, but it seems like it might fill up a bit of the hole.  It's just you and your legs so you can push as hard as you want, and like cycling it's an outdoor activity which is always good, and still gives you time to think.  Watch this space, I'm going to try and work on these short distances (as I end up walking half of it!), and then I'll start working on distance/speed.

I think it's fair to say that the sun has had an impact on my mood as well today, but I definitely feel better for getting out and running (even if stairs might prove challenging for the next couple of days!).  Really needed something as the sheer volume of work I need to do before exams is starting to make itself more apparent and the time left to do it is rapidly disappearing!  Having been for a run I also feel a lot less guilty for the 2 packets of smarties that I have so far devoured whilst revising today!

Here's a picture of the canal from my run (I needed an excuse to stop and catch my breath!):

Monday, May 7, 2012


Well after 3 days of bank holiday fun working in the shop I'm pretty tired.  Thankfully there's no rush to get back to Nottingham in the morning, other than the need to get some work done.  

I hadn't expected to get a lot done while I was home - finished my coursework (needed to get that done to avoid another trip up and down the motorway to hand it in later in the week!), and did a practice UKCAT (which I thought I did pretty well on for a first look at it, apart from the abstract reasoning bit), thought it was about time I started getting organised with that - going to book it once I've got the next round of hospital appointments out the way and know where I stand!

The only "interesting" thing that's happened to me today, apart from being at work was managing to make myself laugh at the same time as choking.  I've become infamous amongst my family for laughing - when I get going I laugh silently, but can't stop.  Not great at the best of times (and has a habit of occurring when I have a mouthful of something which often gets "ejected" from my mouth!  That's the first time it's happened while choking though.  It did have me briefly worried because it's makes it rather difficult to breathe....think I've pulled several muscles now!

I failed at getting an "exciting" photo from the shop, but here's some nice bikes :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Slightly less grumpy day at work today (possibly down to the fact that I sold a nice shiny carbon road bike!), but I'm more than a little bit tired.  Having cycled down to work this morning I accidentally left endomondo running while I was in the shop - walked about 5 miles in total in the day which is not bad considering it's such a small shop!

I'm entirely too sore and broken to write any more so here's another shop photo.
I'll try and find something more exciting in the shop to take a picture of tomorrow!

2012 cycling : 49.92 miles

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I've been at work all day.  I'm tired.  And my arm is sore.  Back at work tomorrow.  And Monday.

Grumpy Becky.

Here's a picture of one of the many bikes I've been looking at today...

I should point out that I like my job.  Working in a bike shop is fun, but it's not so great when it's quiet.  Nor when I'm already tired/grumpy.  Or when I know I should be doing uni work!

Friday, May 4, 2012


I'm going to stay quiet again tonight, with just a brief explanation about 2 photos.

Today was one of the last times I'll be in the chemistry building so I thought I'd take a picture of something I walk past nearly every time I'm there.  I'm disappointed that in my 3 years of studying chemistry I haven't had the chance to play with liquid nitrogen.  

Really would have loved to have dipped something in it, or even been one of the people that I've always watched carrying a flask of it to the lab, but alas - it remains out of my reach!

My second picture today is an extract from a leaflet I received along with the details for my first appointment at the pain clinic next week (if all else fails there'll be a proper blog post that day - promise!). I don't like to say it but I'm a bit skeptical about at least 1 of the things on this list.  I'm almost 100% sure that none of these are clinically *proven*, although I know there is evidence in some cases.   Not all though.  But hey, I've got an open mind and I'm sure it can't hurt to try.  Glad I've taken matters into my own hands such as this isn't the only option I have mind...

Thursday, May 3, 2012


My brain is buzzing at the moment which means I expect I could write an essay and a half this evening.  Don't worry I won't.  This is one occasion where I think writing everything down isn't going to help!

Today's picture shows the progress I'm making with wrong-handed writing (which after today's meeting with my exam scribe is definitely something I'm going to work on!), as well as maybe some progress with organic chemistry.

Told you I wouldn't write an essay and a half, that wasn't even the half.

Stay safe folks.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Despite not really sleeping last night today was going well.  I had a meeting and got some stuff sorted out, and I made plans to sort out the un-sorted things.

Then I had a phone call.
"I'm just sorting out your referral, you need to see a specialist in a hospital environment, is that OK?"
Well yes, I'd asked to be referred to a consultant's clinic so I hardly expected anything else.
"OK, well the closet hospital to you offering those services is..."
Now I was confused, the referral form which I had watched my GP write, and I handed in myself named a consultant at a specific hospital, and had my home address on rather than my uni one as that's where the hospital is.  The hospital she gave me as the close was the one that I walk past every day on my way to uni...

So not only did they ignore the fact I'd chosen a specific consultant (which I was assured is OK to do and wouldn't be a problem), they didn't even read the address given on my form (this wasn't me trying to fiddle the system or anything - my GP had said it was fine.)

I tried to explain the situation, although I didn't do a very good job because I don't do phone calls well at the best of times, and she really caught me off guard.

"I'll ring you back in half an hour".

Longest half an hour of my life.  No, not metaphorically, it really was a long half an hour. In fact after what looked to me like 4 and a half hours I gave up and rang the GP surgery, who told me who my files had been passed on to so with a couple of calls and a bit of googling I managed to speak the right person - 
"You're name rings a bell, oh yes, sorry we forgot to let you know, we've passed your details on to the right hospital now and they'll be in touch"

In the process of sorting all this out I have heard back from the pain management clinic  - my appointment choices were next Thursday or July.  Next week isn't great for me, given I'm home 'til Tuesday, back at uni for Wednesday and Thursday morning and then will just have to drive back down again for the afternoon but I'm not waiting until July!  I've done idea how this clinic works but I assume that means what ever the result of next week is there will be a long wait to see them again but we'll see how it goes.  At least I'm in.  I was getting worried because my consultant (well he's not my consultant anymore...) suggested it might be a wait of a few months.

At least I'm getting somewhere.

I have a feeling that if/when I get a call about seeing the new consultant the only days/times they will be able to do will be ones that that turn my calendar into even more of a logistical nightmare.  Feeling a tad stressed now, too many phone calls all at once and too much to do! Really not what I need with exams looming!

I was going to reminisce about something in detail, but I'm rather conscious that this rather unplanned turn of events has given you lots to read already so I shall brief.  I had to hand in some work today (well it's not due 'til next week but I wanted to get it out of the way).  Had to hand it in in a building I haven't been in much during my degree.  In fact I'd say 4 or 5 times for tutorials in first year.  The reason for this is that lowly undergrads aren't allowed in.  It terrified me in 1st year having to buzz and ask to come in, it was almost as terrifying doing the same thing today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Now it's officially less than 3 weeks until exams the panic has it.  My brain has finally realised!

I have managed to finally finish my biosynthesis notes (after how many weeks?) so thought I'd tackle the workshop questions, they're in the style of exam questions so figured it'd be a good place to start (and if I want them marked they have to be done my this time next week anyway).

I made it through half a question.  It took me an hour.  Didn't even have to think too much as most of it was copied straight from my notes.  Plus that was my limit on writing so couldn't do the second half (of just the first question!).  This leaves me slightly worried.  There is no way that in the exam I can afford to spend that long on half a question, but being purely a synthesis thing I'm not entirely sure that I could explain it to the scribe either.

Panic panic panic.

And having gone to all that effort I've now had to give up on work for a while because I cannae write any more!

Panic panic panic.

Heard back from the first of the 3 jobs I applied for too.  It was the one that I was least expecting to get so it didn't really come as a surprise to get an e-mail telling me that I didn't make the shortlist for the interview.  I don't mind really, but it's never great being told you're not good enough for something!

I'm also debating how much time to spend at home.  My original plan had been to spend little time here, and be home as much as possible, but because everything I need is here, and I seem to work better, not to mention I didn't fancy too much driving I'd decided to stay here until the end of exams.  However I've now been offered some work at home at the weekend, and spending time at home means getting away from a...erm...."situation" here.  I think it's fair to say that after almost 2 years together in the house at least one relationship is more than a little strained.  Not entirely sure what I'll do yet.

Panic panic panic.

See the underlying theme here?

Gerbils are perhaps helping to keep me sane.  Ludo looks rather cosy here!

Right, I should probably go and talk some sense into myself now. And find some painkillers too.  'til tomorrow chaps and chapesses.