Ostend-tacious (16/08/2018)

Got back from Belgium today - myself and a friend from school decided we'd make a short trip away to Europe just to catch up and make sure we go somewhere so we don't work straight through the summer.

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With this in mind, we opted for a cheap-and-cheerful minicruise, which gets you a 3 day round trip including meals and a day visit in a European city - we've done a couple of these before but had never seen the seaside town of Ostend so there we headed.

Interestingly Ostend was apparently based on traditional English seaside towns such as Scarborough under the instructions of Leopold II. The place was essentially a very long beach promenade with a smattering of museums and restaurants in the centre.

While not an enormously interesting locale, it did feature perhaps my finest moment in medicine so far. We were on a boat trip in the harbour and I saw that a young boy had cut his hand. I leapt into action and like a pouncing preclinical panther deftly cleaned the cut and applied a plaster. His mother didn't speak English but the look in her eyes said one thing: 'hero'. MSF, you'll find my CV in your inbox.

Regardless, it was an interesting visit and definitely worth dropping in if you're passing through Belgium!

Day 125 - To The North (27/01/2018)

A very long day indeed. Travelled up to Newcastle to catch up with friends there, which was a rather tremendous ordeal in itself. I used the MegaBus to get there (£25 return), which required catching from Coventry. I therefore went to Leamington station and left a generous half an hour of spare time to allow for delays. Unfortunately, the connecting train was severely delayed, and arrived at 10.35 instead of 10.15. It’s approximately 25 minutes on foot to the bus station, which I had to do in 9 minutes. I sprinted fully-laden flat out through Coventry (the people were very accommodating), made it to the bus station, vomited in the toilets and returned to see the bus roll into place. And then not leave for another 20 minutes, making my ridiculous run almost entirely pointless. Ah well.

It was a nearly seven hour journey on a very hot, cramped bus thankfully alleviated by a pleasant seat neighbour who also happened to be a total nerd – Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons and movies were keenly discussed. She wants to work in film & TV, so I’ve been contacting friends who work in those areas to try and put them in touch. No networking like bus networking.

Interesting evening – had dinner and went through to a house party, a late-birthday celebration for a friend who had been abroad. Every single person there was actually a previous colleague from The Courier, Newcastle University’s student newspaper, and I’m lucky to know them – a really lovely bunch.

From there we moved to another house, and very late into the night (early morning I suppose) we met up with another group, one of whom was in the process of ‘whiting out’ – having drunk heavily and then smoked cannabis at some point earlier on. Apparently when you do things in that order, it massively elevates the level of THC absorption into the blood, leading the body to try and purge it by vomiting. THC is an anti-emitic however, so the ability to vomit is suppressed and the person experiences fluctuating consciousness and very uncomfortable sensation. It didn’t look fun.

Day 98 - 17 going on 18 (31/12/2017)

The big NYE is here. I feel like lots of areas have their own little traditions - Scotland has Hogmanay, in Russia it’s the biggest event of the year (although I don’t know if it’s of the outgoing or incoming year in that case). In my small hometown however, that tradition is gathering on the roundabout in the centre, miserably realising that it’s mostly just clearly underage drinkers you don’t recognise and going home.

Drawing stomachs on the train

Drawing stomachs on the train

This year however, things were very different. It’s taken twenty years to change, but tonight I made my way up to Edinburgh to visit my friend Tom, who studies at the university. I managed to upgrade my standard train ticket to first class for the princely sum of 75p, which I suppose made the ‘free’ drink and sandwich a bargain.

The journey was sadly marred by some unfortunate soul having apparently thrown themselves in front of a train north of Newcastle. My train was stuck outside Newcastle for a little while, and then the service subsequently cancelled once we got onto the platform. I wasn’t sure initially that I’d be able to make it further north, but thankfully one line was opened and I got there eventually.

There was actually a large cohort of my schoolfriends there, a pleasant surprise. We each contributed a Tesco’s finest frozen pizza, resulting in way too much food for six or seven people, then made our way to a house party to while away the night. I got involved with the drinking games (bad move) and very quickly wound up with both pink hair spray and glitter all over my head. Not my best look, it must be said.

When midnight approached, we made our way through the central meadow towards Princess Street, reaching it just in time for the first fireworks. It was a marvellous display, and made the trip very much worth it - offered to take a picture for a couple stood nearby which came out rather spectacularly if I do say so myself (which I do).

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Afterwards we made our way to Hive, a rather grimy nightclub which very much reminded me of my nights in Newcastle. Several regrettable drinks and hours later, we made it home, having relegated one particularly drunk member of our cohort to the other group to look after. ‘Particularly’ in this case doesn’t really indicate the magnitude at play here, but such are the limitations of my vocabulary. I should point out that I myself was sober and had been babysitting him for much of the night, but at least it was funny.