A Family Weekend in the Rain

I’ve been intending to blog about this all week but somehow not found the time until today. Last Thursday evening my dad and Gill arrived to visit for the weekend. I’d stayed at uni later than usual a few times to make sure I’d got all my work done in advance, which meant that I could take Friday off from self-directed study (I have to admit, Fridays are seldom my most productive study days anyway!) so mid-morning we set off on the train to go for a quick lunch at my favourite cafe and then on to the Birmingham Back to Backs for a pre-booked tour. Continue reading


The Midway Dip

Undergraduate terms here are eight weeks long, and there is a widely-known concept called “week five blues”. I used to be rather scathing of the idea, but I have come to realise that actually week five can be the hardest week of term. Week five of Lent term, which is what we’re in the middle of now (weeks start on Thursdays here, don’t ask me why), is the hardest of all. Midway through the middle term of the year, during a cold and frequently grey month.

Today is actually gloriously sunny and warm enough that hats, scarves and gloves are merely optional rather than essential, but unfortunately even that can’t affect the tiredness that has permeated my entire being this week. My sleep schedule has been knocked off balance so frequently in the past two weeks that I’m not sure I can even continue to claim I have one. My “healthy habits” chart is staring accusingly at me, the “nine hours sleep” column conspiciously blank. The one night I did get to bed in time to get nine hours of sleep, I lay awake until 3am despite employing every fall-asleep tactic short of drugging myself.

There are some nice things about this week. By chance, my workload is reasonably light. One supervisor has decided not to set us any more essays this term, and the reading list for her next supervision is so short I had to check I hadn’t lost a page. My dissertation is finally coming together, and I’ve even managed to write somewhere between 800 and 1200 words (some of it will have to be scrapped after the feedback I got from my seminar last week). I had a very helpful phone call with a woman who works with prisoners and she gave me a lot of things to think about, as well as some advice about where to do more research on certain areas.

On Friday we had an interesting double-length medical law lecture with a visiting doctor who gave us the clinician’s side of the story in relation to declarations of death and Do Not Attempt Resusitation orders. There was a short but lively discussion about whether or not we would benefit from legislation which legally defined death – as it is, the matter is left entirely to clinical judgement – and I learnt a lot of things which might well be important, albeit hopefully only occasionally, in my midwifery career.

Yesterday the choir went off to Hereford for the day, to sing evensong and also to look around the town. Although Hereford is sufficiently close to my mum’s house that I recognised the shape of the landscape, I had never been before and it is a nice place full of interesting old buildings – and to my delight, people walking their dogs and children around the town. Dogs and children are both things that my life is generally lacking here. It was a long day, though; we set off at 10.30am and got back at around 11pm.

A small, musically-irrelevant triumph was managing to reattach the zipper to a cassock bag one of the boys had brought to me saying “Choir mummy, can you fix my cassock bag?”. A tiny part of me was quite flattered at the title (and I have to confess that it’s not the first time I’ve been deemed to be the “mummy” for a group of fellow students – I was “cast mummy” to a touring theatre show in the summer of my first year) and a larger part of me was determined not to be defeated by a piece of metal and some plastic teeth. For reference, if you’re attempting the same thing and can’t feed both halves of the zip into the bottom of the zipper, feed one side through, slide the zipper down to the bottom, cut slightly into the zip at the base of the other side of the zip and feed that through from the top of the zipper. Magical!

Next weekend is a long-awaited trip to the gardens of our local National Trust house, which is currently in snowdrop season and more importantly offers delicious tea and cake for which we have a voucher. My shiny new NT membership pack arrived earlier this week and I’m determined to make the most of it. Heidi, my doing-interesting-things friend from chapel, has also procured two free tickets to a book fair on Friday afternoon which sounds like it will be worth going to. It’s fortunate that I have so much free entertainment and socialising planned, because I didn’t babysit this week (they weren’t home) and therefore I’m rather broke. Thank goodness for a well-stocked freezer and food cupboards fit to burst 🙂

Third Week of the Running Madness

I’ve hit week three of my running programme, which is apparently the week that most people quit due to boredom, injury or burnout. Although I did manage to injure my shoulder on Sunday (no idea how, it happened mid-run and was sufficiently bad that I spent evensong with my arm in a sling and the last two days taking Ibuprofen with breakfast, which is very rare for me), it is a lot better today and I decided it wouldn’t stop me from running. Apathy very nearly did – I reached the last possible point at which I could go out without ending up finishing my run after sunset and decided not to go. Then I looked at my diary which happened to be in front of me, and realised that if I didn’t I wouldn’t manage three runs this week. So I went and it was great!

Honestly, I don’t know what has happened to me. I was feeling a bit trepidatious about this week because it involves longer runs with fewer intervals of walking, but the time flew and my legs weren’t aching anything like as much as I expected. When the podcast ended I felt as though I must have somehow skipped ahead on the recording, because it didn’t feel like twenty minutes at all. The clock assures me it was, though. I’m raring to go on the rest of the week, and here’s to the next six weeks as well.

Today is a generally positive day because my exam this morning went excellently, possibly even better than last Tuesday’s. I’m hoping the next two (tomorrow and Thursday) will go as smoothly, and then the slight blip last Wednesday won’t be as much of a problem. I’ve also decided to treat myself to a day out on Friday, so I’m taking myself to a new cafe for breakfast after morning prayer, then going to a National Trust property for the day. Then I’ll head home and curl up with some popcorn to watch Potiche, my latest LoveFilm acquisition. It’ll be great. Saturday will be spent beginning my clearing out and packing mission (I’m starting early as I have serious doubts about whether all my stuff will fit into the 2m cubed storage unit I’ve rented, so I need time to find alternatives), and then on Sunday I’m going to some mystery village with the choir for the day. It wouldn’t be a mystery if I just googled the name of the place, but I rather like mysteries.

Of Jobs and Swallows

I realised that I didn’t write anything about my job interview at a National Trust house! It all happened quite quickly; the closing date for the application was Thursday 23rd and they rang me on Friday, asking me to come in on Tuesday morning.

I might as well say now that I didn’t get the job (I was second on the list, apparently, from a shortlist of nine). I was very disappointed because it was a really great job, but it would have meant giving up all three of the weeks I’m meant to be away this summer, so there is a small positive.

It’s the first time that I’ve actively enjoyed a job interview! Not so much the interview itself, although the two people interviewing me were friendly and pleasant, but once the interview was over they gave me a free ticket to the house and got me booked onto the first tour of the day. Tickets cost about £10 usually so it more than made up for the cost of getting there.

The house was great! And the gardens and grounds were nice too, although not the best ones I’ve seen. I was there before the place was officially open, so I wandered around outside chatting to the staff who were working – gardeners, grooms, tour guides and volunteers, and they were all happy to chat. I would really love to work for the National Trust, but it seems that now is not the time to start.

I took some photos while I was outside, and one inside, but there is no electrical light inside so there wasn’t a lot of point taking more.

There was a nest of baby swallows in the barn roof
One of the beautiful old cars
This red Rover had been rebuilt, I think
The last two owners of the house both rowed for their Cambridge colleges

I also heard back from the cleaning agency again, after the interview a couple of weeks ago. They had found a client for me, but unfortunately when I told them that I’d be returning to uni at the end of September (I’d told them that before but it hadn’t been passed on) they decided not to give me that client after all, but to put me down for holiday cover and one-off cleans. So I might not get any work at all from that. I’m trying to be Zen about it all.