Saturday, 27 May 2017

Troll by DB Thorne

Troll (noun): a person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative online post.

Troll is a new book by D.B. Thorne that I was able to read a preview of recently, and is centered around an online troll, which is obviously very current right now. Fortune becomes increasingly concerned when his estranged daughter, Sophie, disappears without a trace. The police give up on the investigation, but Fortune keeps searching, insistent that his daughter is alive and driven by guilt due to his failures as a father. He soon finds evidence that Sophie had been hounded by a vicious online troll who seemed to know far too much about her life and her whereabouts. Fortune's search uncovers secrets long ago buried, and he discovers that monsters that prey online don't always stay there.

This novel is alternatively narrated by Fortune and Sophie, revealing their stories individually. It has some really clever twists and turns, and I went through a huge mixture of emotions whilst reading it - sadness, disgust, laughter and empathy. The story gradually reveals the truth behind the characters' past, which made me realise why certain characters did certain things. Sophie is a blogger who gained an online troll as a follower, and that was terrifying to me as you hear similar stories happening in real-life in the media. This novel also reminded me that there is a person behind online trolls, and they probably have a reason why they are being horrible on the internet.

Troll is brilliantly written, and is definitely worth a read if you like realistic thrillers with lots of surprises along the way. The identity of the troll was a shock (although I did begin to suspect it towards the end, when he gave some clever clues), but it tied the rest of the book together in a terrifying but smart conclusion.

You can check out other bloggers' reviews of Troll via the links in the poster for the blog tour below. Troll is available to purchase from 1st June 2017.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Lealholm and Saltburn

Yesterday, after finishing medical school, myself and my friend Kelly travelled up to her home in the North East to stay here for the weekend. As it was such a beautiful day today, we decided to celebrate finishing university by having a picnic with prosecco in the sunshine.

We drove to a little village in North Yorkshire called Lealholm, where we set ourselves up on the grass for our picnic. We had so much food - sandwiches, fruit, scotch eggs, cheese and onion rolls, pizza bites, party rings, Brie... The list goes on.

The grass we sat on was right next to a river with stepping stones crossing it, so when we got too hot we were able to paddle our feet for a while. We spent the afternoon eating, snoozing and paddling in the sunshine, with some beautiful scenery surrounding us, before getting some cake and ice-cream from the village shop.

Afterwards we decided to visit Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a seaside town also in North Yorkshire. It had some amazing views over the cliffs and the beach, which was gorgeous as the sun started to go down.

We walked around the valley gardens (and obviously had to squeeze as many people as we could into a teepee).

The gardens brought us back round to the beach, so we wandered down the pier for views back over Saltburn.

I had such a lovely day and the beautiful weather made it even better. We came home exhausted, sunburnt and very full with food, and I'm ready for another day of exploring some more of the North East tomorrow.

I really don't think you can beat the UK when the sun is shining - I really want to explore more of it next year when I'm working, as I'm not going to be able to have much more time off than a long weekend. Brighton, Ireland and Bath are at the top of my list!
Seek what sets your soul on fire.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Reflecting on medical school

Today was my last ever day as a medical student! I honestly can't believe how fast the last 5 years have gone, and yet it feels like I have been in Liverpool for a long time.

I still remember the day that I found out that I had got a place at medical school, and how much my mum and I cried after all of the time and effort we had put into interviews and work experience, and how happy I was. I remember my very first induction day, where I had to attend a meeting in a hall in the Guild with around 200 other students. We were told about student life and how to make the most of it. I remember first moving into student halls, and how terrified I was. First year seemed really hard, with a ridiculous amount of things to learn on top of settling into life in a city away from my family.

I remember the excitement of getting my first stethoscope as a present off my Nan, and my first NHS ID card in 2nd year when my hospital placements started. I was so scared of patients at first, and so hesitant about talking to them and saying the wrong thing. Now small talk just comes natural to me, and I feel as comfortable talking to a patient about rectal bleeding as I do talking to a friend about my Aldi shopping list.

3rd year quickly brought along the halfway mark, and our mid-course ball seemed like such a huge achievement. We started to learn about the specialties, such as paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, and psychiatry. My love for GP bloomed as I spent a few weeks at a GP practice. As quickly as 3rd year was over, 4th year started and our final exams were looming. Last year seemed like a blur of revision and constantly listening to each others' hearts and feeling as many abdomens as possible in preparation for exams. But 4th year also brought my elective placement, where I travelled to Fiji to shadow the doctors in a hospital there for a while. Thinking about the day that we found out that we had passed finals still gives me goosebumps - we celebrating by partying the night away on a beach in the Pacific Ocean. I was also lucky enough to be able to travel to Australia and Bali.

Being a medical student blog

And then came 5th year. Oh 5th year, how I have enjoyed you (and possibly taken you for granted). As our finals were taken last year, we did not have any major exams this year, and I found that I had a lot more time on my hands. This year I feel like I have really learnt how to be a doctor. I have learnt about the ins and outs of a hospital, and what my job next year will actually entail. I have been on the wards a lot more, and have had much more patient contact (mainly because I haven't been in the library revising constantly), and I have enjoyed it so much. I honestly cannot tell you how lucky I feel to be in my position, and to be able to have an insight into peoples' lives that others usually do not. Patients automatically trust you and open up to you, and allow you to examine them. I can give suggestions for treatments that will drastically improve a patient's life. As much a cliche as it is, I get to help people. And if that's not a privileged position to be in, I don't know what is.

5th year has been very relaxed, and I haven't had the pressure of exams or studying to worry about. I have enjoyed my time in hospital and on placement, but I have also really enjoyed my own time and my social life. That's one thing that I think I have taken for granted, and that I will miss when I start working.

Medical school has brought lots of ups and downs, but I have had such an amazing experience, and have especially enjoyed the last 3 years. I have made friends that I know will be in my life for a long time to come, and I have also found a new home in Liverpool that I am excited to explore more over the next couple of years. I am sad that medical school is over, but I'm also so excited for what is to come, and for all of the adventures that the next few years will bring.
Whatever makes your soul happy - do that.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Mental Health Monday: It's the simple things in life

Recently I feel like I have been so appreciative of the simpler things in life, and I have just been so happy! I'm not sure whether it's the brighter weather, or the fact that I have so much that I am excited about (my new flat/summer holidays/new job starting in August), but everything seems to make me happy right now, and nothing seems to really phase me.

I thinking noticing the smaller things in life goes back to mindfulness, which is all about living in the now and being present in every moment. I find myself enjoying the present more, and I'm not dwelling on the past anywhere near as much as I used to.

So I thought I would write a small list of some of the simple things that make me happy:

1) Waking up with the window open to the sound of birds
2) Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine
3) Reading a book and taking myself away to another place and time
4) My sparkly make-up bag, which instantly makes me feel 100x more put together when I get it out in the mornings
5) Being on the same page as someone else - thinking and feeling the same thing at the same time
6) Fresh flowers brightening up a room
7) Lasagne cooked just right, with gooey cheese and crispy pasta layers
8) A good night's sleep, and waking up feeling refreshed in the morning
9) Days spent in bed just watching Netflix and knowing you don't have to be anywhere
10) Mornings when you know you don't have to get up any time soon
11) Waking up 2 hours before your alarm and realising you still have lots of time to sleep
12) Taking a photograph of something hilarious, just as it happens
13) Stepping off a plane in a hot country and feeling the warm air hit your face
14) The smell of freshly cut grass (this is so nostalgic for me as it reminds me of when I was at primary school)
15) Receiving a card/letter/flowers from a loved one, just because
16) The first bite of pizza/chips/kebab after a night out
17) The soft glow of candles, and the excitement of using them during a power cut as a child
18) Sitting and talking for hours and putting the world to rights
19) Binge watching a favourite TV show
20) Laughing until your belly hurts
21) Getting into pyjamas after a long day and snuggling in bed
22) Freshly washed bed sheets
23) Feeling like everything is falling into place
24) Looking back and realising that you made the right decisions
25) Singing along badly to the radio in the car
26) Late night Asda trips
27) When the weather gets hot enough to go out with bare legs
28) Dancing all around the house to your favourite music
29) Those days when things just go right and anything feels like it is possible
30) Spending time with dogs that adore you, no matter who you are or where you are from
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
                         - Mary Oliver

Sunday, 21 May 2017

An exciting weekend

This weekend has been such an exciting one for me, what with finally getting the keys to my flat and being able to start moving my things over and decorating. It has been so much fun picking out all of the colour schemes for each of the rooms, plus all of the details, from sofas and beds down to things like plates and coffee table books.

I've decided that I want my bathroom to be really bright with lots of contrasting colours; my bedroom is painted grey so I am adding pink and greens to create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere; and my lounge also has grey walls, so I am adding in lots of colours with cushions, blankets, prints and decorative accessories.

I wanted my flat to reflect me, and for people to walk in and think, "this is definitely Hannah's flat". I wanted the prints on the walls to include some of my favourite things and the books on my shelves to show what I'm interested in. I am also the sort of person that loves colour (yellow is my favourite colour), so I wanted my flat to be bright and vibrant like my clothing. I want my flat to be comfy and cosy, with cushions and blankets everywhere you look.

So the past couple of days have been really exciting - yesterday we went to IKEA to pick out some furniture (I got a bed, coffee table and shelving unit), and today I have moved a few more things over. Moving everything over is going to be a huge job - it's amazing how many belongings you accumulate whilst living somewhere for 3 years!

I really feel like a proper adult now as I am getting my own flat (and having to muddle my way through adult-y things like bills and council tax!), and I'm so happy to finally be moving away from student life. Don't get me wrong, I have really enjoyed being a student, but 5 years is a loooooong time to go without money and with a small amount of space (especially when you own as many candles as I do - I counted 14 in my tiny student bedroom...).

Tomorrow marks the start of my last ever week as a medical student, and I am so excited to see what the future brings (although seriously, where has that time gone?!). I'm sure I will be more terrified when I am actually a doctor, as well as wishing I could still live the chilled student life, but at the moment I am really looking forward to it. And I'm also looking forward to taking you on the adventure with me!
Show up for people. Offer what you can. Be unselfish. Love people when they need it, even when you feel they don't deserve it. Be a healer. Be kind. Show up for people. Because when you're hurting you'll want someone to show up for you.
                               - Alex Elle

Friday, 19 May 2017

Empty flat tour

If you have read any of my blog posts over the last few weeks (seriously, I mention it a lot), you will know that I am moving into a new flat to start my life as a doctor - and today was MOVE IN DAYYYY!!! I really cannot express how excited I was to get my keys and look around my flat again, as well as start to move some of my things in. These photos were taken as soon as we walked into the flat (just after I fell in love with it once again) - so I thought I would show you my empty flat tour.

The photo above and below is my kitchen/lounge. I'm right in the top flat, so the eaves of the house are obvious in this room, which I really love as I think it gives it some character. I love the grey colour of the walls, and I'm planning to add in loads of colour via cushions/throws/furniture/accessories. This is definitely the room I'm most excited to decorate!

This room is my bedroom, and is also painted grey. I'm planning on having a pink/copper colour scheme in here, so that it feels really relaxing and cosy.

Down the stairs to the bathroom...!

This is my bathroom, and I'm also planning to add loads of colour in here with towels, prints and candles. I already have a chest of drawers that I've painted a bright blue colour, which I'm looking forward to storing all of my products in. I also really want to get one of those ladder shelves to store towels on.

I am so pleased with my flat and it's already starting to look more homely with each one of my belongings that I move in. We moved kitchen stuff plus a few decorative accessories over today, and tomorrow I'm off to IKEA to buy a bed and some shelving.

I can't wait to get all of my stuff in - look out for more room tours over the next few months, where I will be showing you each finished room, plus some ideas on how to decorate on a budget (aka student loan)!
The beautiful thing about life is that you can always change, grow and get better. You aren't defined by your past. You aren't your mistakes.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

#YourNewMcDonalds - Huyton Page Moss McDonald's

Huyton Page Moss McDonald's, Liverpool Road, Huyton Knowsley, Liverpool, L36 3YB

As I mentioned on my blog last night, yesterday I got the chance to attend the Huyton Page Moss McDonald's to be shown some of the new changes to McDonald's, as well as make my very own Big Mac!

Firstly we all sat down with Mark, the franchisee that owns Huyton Page Moss McDonald's plus 4 others across Liverpool. He talked to us about the changes that have recently happened in McDonald's, including their digital transformation and a new project called "Experience of the Future".

You may have noticed that most McDonald's restaurants now have self-service kiosk screens that you can use to order your food on, instead of going up to the counter. The screen allows you to look through all of the menu options, giving you more time to browse than when you used to have to order at the counter. Most of the menu items are also fully customisable on the screen, so if you would like to add onions to your burger you can do, or you could take pickles away. I personally much prefer using the screens (yes, partly because I'm antisocial and don't always want to talk to someone...), because as soon as you have paid your meal starts to be made in the kitchen, so by the time you get to the counter to pick it up, it's probably nearly made (most meals are made within 2 minutes) - and apparently 40% of other customers also agree with me. On these screens, and also at the counter, you can now ask for table service. You just choose a zone that you want to sit in, and a member of staff will bring your food over as soon as it's ready.

Another part of McDonald's digital revolution is the tablets situated on some of the tables. On these tablets you can access the internet and play games, as well as look at all of the nutritional values of the menu items. Whilst I was in the store there were quite a few kids playing on them - they certainly looked entertained!

The future of McDonald's digital transformation is an app which you can use to order your meal beforehand, and then as soon as you enter the restaurant your food will be quickly prepared for you. This is likely to be around in the next 6 months. Plus I heard though the grapevine that McDonald's may start to deliver in the not-so-distant future... Sunday morning hangover, sorted.

Now, before I talk about making a Big Mac (I know that's the part that you're all most excited for), let's discuss McDonald's "Experience of the Future" project. Traditionally, the main menu items were made in large batches and put into a heater and kept there for up to 10 minutes, so that it was ready for the customer as soon as they ordered. Recently, McDonald's in the UK have changed the way they prepare their food, and it is now all freshly made. New machinery was created to make the process of preparing food even quicker - for example, their toasters toast bread in under 17 seconds. This means that food can be made fresh as soon as it is ordered, and is still with the customer within around 2 minutes.

On to my Big Mac journey! The first exciting thing was that I was given my VERY OWN McDonald's apron, name badge and cap! I just know that I'm going to wear the apron whenever I'm baking or cooking from now on... It makes me feel very professional.

Diane, the manager at Huyton Page Moss McDonald's, very kindly showed me around the kitchen and helped me through my Big Mac journey. Firstly, I had to thoroughly wash my hands. Then it was onto the cooking of the meat, which is the part that takes the longest in the whole Big Mac process. Two pieces of meat from the freezer are placed onto the machine below, and the lid is shut. The machine automatically counts down for you, and when it is done it opens up. I then had to season the meat and put my cooked patties into a storage unit whilst the rest of the burger was being prepared.

Next was the toasting of the bread. All 3 pieces of bread that make up the Big Mac are placed into the toaster, and pop out the bottom when they are finished. I added the patties to the bread, put some Big Mac sauce on top, and then added my chosen fillings - lettuce and onions. I closed the box, and my Big Mac was created!

I then made an iced mango and apple smoothie in the machine situated behind the counter.

Next was the legendary fries. Diane showed me how to scoop the fries and add them to the box in the most efficient way.

And here is my Big Mac! One thing I noticed was how efficient the staff were in the kitchen, and how they all worked so well as a team. Each staff member had a different part of the process to do (for example, cooking the meat, toasting the bread, frying the chips), and they all seemed very highly trained. It was really interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes in McDonald's, and making my own iconic Big Mac (which was delicious, by the way) is definitely something to tick off the bucket list!

Mark is also opening a new McDonald's restaurant on Great Homer Street in Liverpool. This is the first McDonald's to be built in Liverpool for 17 years, and will create 100 jobs (and thousands of Big Macs). It will be two stories high and will apparently have some really funky decor - it's opening on 28th June so go and check it out if you're in the area!

You can find out more information about McDonald's here.

*This post is sponsored but all Big Mac views are my own*