Summertime Reflections

A lot of things have been happening since I last posted, that I hadn’t had a chance to fathom everything. I thought this would be a good time to reflect. A brief overview if you will. I won’t make it long or boring.

So let’s begin. From around the end of June, I had two weeks holiday which I still had left to take. I spent most of the first week babysitting my baby nephew, who was 7 weeks old at the time. This was a new skill for me! From the bonding and cuddles, to all the baby responsibilities-feeding, nappy changing, giving a bath, attending the health visitor’s appointment and staying at home whilst mummy could sleep. The time I also had provided me with a good opportunity, to catch up with childhood friends and family.

The second week was somewhat different. OK very different…we took a trip to France 🙂 Believe it or not, this was my first time I’d ever been! I’ll be writing about this trip at some point, with a bonus video if I can! I do want to try harder to document holidays with loved ones, one of those ‘challenges’ I’ve decided to take upon. I think I was inspired by the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’. I mean, who isn’t?

Unfortunately upon returning, I became unwell. I managed to acquire gastroenteritis and lost 2kg in the process. After two weeks of holiday, this wasn’t the best of times! Having called in sick for one week, I eventually felt well enough to return to work. Time flew of what remained the rest of the weeks I had left to work…and now I’ve completed my training.

The summer is looking good. I’ve already made good use of my time by spending quality time with loved ones, and doing something I’ve been advised to do for once in my life. Nothing. Relax. Just for a little while.

In spite of doing the above, I have also partaken in what most people do in celebration-shop a little. Be it a good pair of heels, some ‘new work cloathes’ and an instax camera I’m excited to use. 

My time at work, particularly at the last surgery I worked at, made me realise that I’ve been an employee for so long, it’s finally time to work for myself, pursue things I’ve never tried before. At the moment I’ve started swimming (I want to do it properly) and am learning the works of being a pastry chef.

I hope you are all having a lovely summer 🙂

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Working for the Weekend

How did you spend your bank holiday weekend this month? I actually had quite an enjoyable one (for once not work related!), so I thought it might just be nice to talk about it here!

Whilst I was studying, one of the programmes that would run on TV was the Channel 4 programme “Four in a Bed”. I never really got into it before until this time, and we’d joke about that one day, we’ll go to a bed and breakfast and check that it was spotlessly clean!

After the good news of the week, we thought about how we could celebrate. And then it occurred to me…why don’t we step it up a notch? Why don’t we go to a hotel? Not for a conference or for a night’s stay before the day of an exam, but purely because for the hell of it.

Yes it was happy days!

We booked a Saturday night’s stay at the beautiful Hyatt hotel. I’d only stayed there for a night as part of a conference about two years ago.  I purposely chose to go there because there was a gorgeous spa and unfortunately there were no free slots the last time I went. I planned our spa treatments the night before we left and I was psyched.

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The serene entrance to the spa 🙂

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This was such a whole new experience for me, that I was sad enough to take a photo!

I got the ESPA Salt and Oil Scrub, followed by the joint Swedish massage. Following this, I got the bog standard thing most ladies do, but which I’ve only ever had done once in my life-a professional manicure!

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Remember ‘the bend…and snap!’?! No we didn’t do that, but it was nice just to gossip with the masseuse about some of her clients!

Pretty nails!

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, which included a lot of pampering, TV and good eats!! But once we got back on the Sunday evening, we didn’t want to end things there.

We decided to enjoy the Monday by doing something a little more local and humble-go to the park. Instead of doing our bits at home, we realised that we could do all these things in the beautiful outdoors. So we grabbed a rug and headed for the outdoors to read, write and sip on ice cold coffees!! I hadn’t taken too many pictures of the park, but heck it was so beautiful and everyone was in such a good mood, that I squeezed in a couple of shots just to capture the moments.

We didn’t take the photo to market Ray-Bans…it was just really sunny!

Until the next bank holiday weekend!

Song Of The Month

Here it is! I came across this soundtrack interestingly whilst watching a Simpsons episode. I grew up with the James Bond movies my dad watched many a time. I think this song is an absolute classic and I find the introduction simply gorgeous. I hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I do…I wish I had such a voice!

The Laendler

I recently got the opportunity to reminisce on some of my favourite movies. Whilst coming up with a list,  I realised that the majority of my favourites turned out to be from many years ago, including some classics which I simply adore. 

My favourite scene from the classic movie I watched growing up…who doesn’t love “The Sound Of Music”

The Apple Of My Eye

One of the skills I would like to accomplish is becoming a pastry chef. Maybe it was after watching the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ , that I was further inspired to take up this hobby. We even have Julia Child’s two volumes of ‘Mastering The Art Of French Cooking’, the classic literature considered a must read for the serious chefs. The art of the patisserie is certainly something different from the medical world and one I find incredibly interesting…and tasty! For all you pastry-chef wannabes out there, this might be of some interest to you.

After watching many a YouTube video for cooking ideas, we came across The French Cooking Academy channel and stumbled upon the chef’s take on Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred dish: baked apples with caramel sauce. We decided to make this.

These are the list of ingredients we used, which you’ll recognise from Raymond Blanc’s website. You’ll see here however that the amounts are doubled, as we assumed those on his website were for one person. It appeared to be enough!

For the apples
120g Unsalted butter, melted
120g Caster sugar
For the caramel sauce
2 tbsp Water
100g Caster sugar
160ml Apple juice
1tsp Arrowroot, mixed with a little cold water
2 tbsp Calvados or cider (we used cider)
For the garnish
30g Pistachio nuts
20g Almond flakes
30g Bread, diced
30g Icing sugar

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Ingredients at the ready in their individual plates (an attempt to be like the greats!), a glass of cider and we’re rearing to go!

We started off with the garnish

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Mix together the pistachios, almond flakes and cut up bread cubes in icing sugar. We did add a couple of teaspoons of water in the mixture for some texture, though this isn’t mentioned in Mr Blanc’s recipe. Then spread the mixture across a baking tray and toast these for 10 minutes in the oven at 170 degrees until lightly brown…and with a good crunch!

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Put aside to cool and that’s your garnish done!

Then comes the star of the dish…the apples

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Keeping the oven on, wash three ‘cox’s’ apples (did an extra apple just incase!), trim off the top of the apples and remove their cores. You do this by making a small incision through one side of each apple, just above and beyond the core. Then push the potato peeler (or an apple corer, we didn’t have this) through the top of the apple as far as the incision. Twist to remove the core!

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Brush the apples with melted butter

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Roll the apples in caster sugar and place in a casserole dish or equivalent, which is brushed with butter and sprinkled with caster sugar. For extra kicks we poured a small amount of melted butter onto each apple. Then bake these for 35–40 minutes, but be quite tentative in the last few minutes…you want the apples to be soft but still hold their shape. It’s literally make or break for these fruities!

Now for the last phase of the dish, the caramel sauce.

IMG_20171108_171709Make this while your apples are baking. Put the water into a saucepan and spoon the sugar evenly over it until it absorbs the water, for no more than a couple of minutes. Bring this to the boil and cook it to a dark golden brown colour, by almost rotating the saucepan in a circular motion. Just make sure it doesn’t burn!

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Add the apple juice but expect this to be very noisy!! Then bring back to the boil and add in the arrowroot. No I didn’t have a clue what this was either, but I’ve been told it acts as a thickener. Finally add in the cider to the rest of the sauce.

You’re almost there! Now comes the best bit…the plating! Place the garnish in a circle around the edge of the plate and a baked apple in the centre. The plate should be warmed…we just ran it under hot water and dabbed down. Pour the caramel sauce on the apple and allow it surround the apple in all it’s beauty, and top it off with some vanilla ice cream.

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Et Voila! What do you think?

So there you have it. My first time cooking like a pastry chef and making a Michelin-starred dish. And an added bonus, you can make this at home! YAY!

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Tap Your Heels Together Three Times

I spent this weekend by undergoing a massive clear up of almost all of my possessions. I sieved through my documents, all sorts of books, shelves, clothes and shoes. Hard to believe it took me almost the whole of Saturday and half of Sunday to do it. However, I knew it was one of those things that I had to force myself to do, for it would never get done otherwise! As I’ll be going back home again soon, I tried to take that as a good opportunity to bring back some clothes, and other stuff I don’t use anymore.

I found it remarkable how simply going through your things can bring back such vivid memories. For example, I brought here with me my twenty-something year old figurines, all intact. I took them to university to remind me of home and to brighten up my room. But for some reason since coming here, I kept them all in a box. This was the weekend I finally took them out to display again.

I kept a lot of my medical books , as I know I will refer to these from time to time. They have university written all over them, including the ups and downs. This was the literature we had to study just to keep our places.

Whilst going through my pyjamas, (I wasn’t kidding when I said I went through everything), I came across a PJ top which I wore almost all the time at uni. It was a blue one with white clouds, all in one piece, yet I stopped wearing it. I tried to think why so, and then I realised it was because the trouser bottoms became unwearable. The elasticity had gone, it’s time had run out. I looked at this top and really debated whether I should keep it with me, or take it back home. I distinctly remembered one of the times when I first met this guy at university, I happened to be wearing this pyjama top. I went over to his room and asked him to leave me alone, because I was getting these prank calls from him at midnight, claiming to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now he’s my boyfriend.

Today was the day I started seeing patients on my own at a surgery. Probably more nervous than excited, I thought that one thing I can try and get right is how I dress. Last week I was wearing what I call my ‘granny cardigan’. It made me look old and small. How convenient it was that I went through all my clothes just a couple of days ago! (Maybe on a subconscious level, it was another reason I wanted to review my clothes).

I came across smart-looking items encompassing blouses and skirts and the such, some I hadn’t worn in a long time, some surprisingly still fitting me and some I’d never seen before! I made the effort and I do think it showed. My colleagues took notice that I looked a little different and I think I was treated as such. Maybe this is the world we live in. I even got complimented by a patient who liked my ‘ruby red shoes’. I assure you they’re not quite as glamorous as in The Wizard of Oz, but hey it paid off.

Why on earth am I rambling on about things, possessions? Does it really matter? Well I think that depends on how you look at it. Sometimes they prove to be more than useful, given the right circumstances (such as my example of work above). However, there are times when I don’t just look at my things as mere objects but as collections, specific to memories from my past. You grow yet they’ll always be the same. They always remind you of where you came from and will always bring you back to a certain point in time. What makes them special? Well like anything I suppose, they always have a story behind them.

Life is a Movie

This weekend was a good weekend. I think everyone needs one of those weekends… you know the sort where you don’t set an alarm, then get up late and are happy that you did.

When I did wake up, eventually, I decided to drive to the city centre. There were some errands that we needed to do and we still hadn’t seen Wonder Woman! Despite having left the house at almost 2pm, the city was still buzzing and it was a very sunny day!

On the Friday, I watched the British movie ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’…the true story of a homeless man, who was literally saved by a stray cat.

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Isn’t Bob the cutest?!

Having previously done a 10k marathon to raise money for the homeless shelter, there is now a part of me who will try and give more money than I previously did, to a homeless person I see. Whilst we were in the city, I saw a homeless man on the floor with an empty paper cup in his hand. The movie I had seen the day before came straight to my mind, his story and his troubles. He even looked like the man in the movie. He was miserable and had a sweaty forehead (it was a hot day). I fished out a £5 note and gave it to him.

‘Are you sure?’ His face completely changed.

‘Yeah, get some food it’s past lunch time’. I said.

He thanked me and we carried on. I turned around and I saw him run into Subway.

Having completed our errands, we stopped for a coffee and later headed off to see Wonder Woman.

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I thought my ‘flat white’ coffee looked pretty, so I took a picture

This movie was better than I thought and by far my favourite DC movie to date. The characters, the scenery, the story line, even the music which is definitive of Wonder Woman, all absolutely amazing. It encompasses a central theme which I adore-the importance of leadership. 

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From one of my many favourite scenes. It’s not about what you deserve.  It’s what you believe.’

Even after I returned home, I was still in that movie mood. I ended the day by going on Youtube (as you do) and watching clip after clip, of classic movies and new favourites. I wanted to end this post by sharing with you two of my favourite Disney movie openings, in the order I first watched them as a child. I hadn’t seen them in a VERY long time and yet I still get the chills. I think they are both so grand, magnificent and unforgettable. I still wish they did movies like these. Moana has now become my new favourite movie of the 21st century and one I am super excited about. I loved it that much that I went to the cinema twice just to watch it, but that’s for another post, another time!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Prince of Egypt