Monday, October 30, 2006

Cough, cough, cough

We are absolutely shattered. Lauren has kept us awake two nights on the trot with her coughing. I've also been coughing away too, so am partly to blame. Every time she coughs, she wakes herself up. Sometimes she makes herself sick with the coughing, poor girl.

She's sleeping in our room at the moment because of this. I was initially getting out of bed every hour to soothe her back to sleep but by 04:30 on Sunday morning I had had enough and had moved her into our room. Last night, despite sleeping in our room, the coughing still woke her up on a regular basis and she needed us to help her get back to sleep. At 05:00, after she'd been a bit sick, I moved her into bed with me and Jase retreated to the sofa.

At 07:50 this morning, I was aware of a hard object hitting me on the head, so had to wake up. Lauren had taken the remote control from the bedside table and was bashing me on the head with it. She obviously felt it was time for Mama to get up!

Obviously, I was not impressed. Thankfully, Suzanne and Peter are with us at the moment and were able to take over for a while and I got a little bit more sleep.

Lauren, Tedwina and Suzanne read "Country Living" together. Lauren and Tedwina are planning renovations...

Lauren enjoys reading with her grandparents!

She is fast asleep now, having a morning nap. Seems to sleep better during the day than at night unfortunately! Despite this lack of sleeping at night, Lauren remains as fresh as a daisy whilst the grown-ups are flagging.

Lauren and Dada play with Lauren's cart. Lauren has emptied everything out in order to get in. Is Dada looking for instructions?

Lauren loves being pushed around in her cart!

All this is not good for the old revision, sadly but it isn't the little girl's fault. Poor Lauren, poor Mama and poor Dada...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

My brother Hubert left the UK for the US yesterday for good. He's already sent his stuff on ahead and should have already arrived in Chicago.

Mum and dad were understandably really upset to see him go. They phoned up in the early evening to say that they were going to go out for dinner because they didn't want to go home just yet. Mum and dad normally went round to see Hube every weekend in Glasgow (or Hube would go to their house in Edinburgh) so I know they'll really miss him.

We'll all miss him too. I know he's going to miss not seeing in Lauren in particular because he's really fond of her. She'll be almost 2 years old when he next sees her (likely to be at my brother Jase wedding to Charlotte).

So for mum and dad, here's a picture of all of us at the Felix Bar in Hong Kong January 2005 (taken by our cousin Monica). The Felix was a really swanky bar on the top floor of the famous Peninsula Hotel. Really cool, but drinks required a small mortgage!

More photos of our Hong Kong trip are on our Flickr website. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


OK, I've officially got lurgy. For the last two days, my voice has been going, and yesterday I had no voice at all. All of yesterday I had one of those horrible headaches that no amount of painkillers could shift. Every time I coughed, it felt like my head was about to burst. Somehow, I still managed to give my presentation at St Mary's (though they did laugh at my lack of volume for a change!).

Last night, I was running a temperature and felt shivery, even under stacks of duvet. After a while, I felt all hot and horrible. It took about an hour and a half (and drugs) for the temperature to go down and for me to feel comfortable enough to sleep.

When I did get to sleep, I slept surprisingly well. I woke up briefly at about 7:45 this morning before going back to sleep.

Anyhow, I think I'd better stay at home in quarantine and not give it to anyone else. I was meant to meet up with a friend from work to revise exam stuff but I know she wouldn't thank me if I gave it to her just before the exam!

Poor Lauren doesn't realise I'm unwell and has been wanting her usual hugs from her mama. However, I suspect that she'll be fine, as I suspect she gave this bug to me in the first place!

Hope I get my voice back before the exam; can you believe the next two parts are both oral exams i.e. viva and clinical? Typical!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Insomnia strikes again

After taking a short break from revising, I am back to the books for the final two parts of the exam in two weeks' time. It is very stressful, despite having passed the first part (I really don't want to have to resit because I muck up the next two parts).

It's playing havoc with my sleep. Having suffered for 2 weeks with waking up at 3-4am every night in the run up to the last exam (and therefore surviving on about 5 hours' sleep) I cut out all caffeine in a desperate bid to get back to normal.

Unfortunately, it hasn't quite worked. Last night I woke again at 3am and was unable to get back to sleep until about 6am.  Today, I've developed a really sore throat, lost my voice and am running a slight fever. I've had two colds in the last 2 months; very unusual for me as I am normally the last person to succumb and am almost never ill.

I've got a presentation to give tomorrow at St Mary's so hope that my voice returns before then!

I have a lot of ground to cover before the exams on the 8th and 9th. What a nightmare! I console myself with the knowledge that it will all be over in 17 days' time (well, as long as I've passed, I suppose!).

I want my life back!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Saturday Breakfast

Jase's car needed a service and MOT on Saturday, so the whole family got up and left the house bright and early to take the car to the garage. After we dropped off the car, we drove into Chiswick in my car to have breakfast. We ate at the excellent Balans on Chiswick High Road.

Lauren had some more pineapple juice and sat on Daddy's knee whilst we were waiting for the food.

We ordered scrambled eggs for Lauren.  Jase had the blueberry pancakes and I had the Eggs Royale (poached eggs on a muffin with smoked salmon).

Lauren is fascinated by my teapot!

Lauren in full octopus mode...

The little girl clearly enjoyed her breakfast outing as much as we did!

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Call of Down Under

Yesterday, Jase and I both went to the Australian Embassy as part of their skilled migrant programme.

I can't remember if I've talked about this before, but after Jase was made redundant (see my post and his post) I spotted this advert in my industry journal.

The advert said that Australia were actively trying to recruit professionals from overseas to try to fill job shortages in Australia. I was quite surprised because for years I had been told that Australia had trained too many doctors so therefore no hope of migrating there.

Anyway, turns out that my job is on the list of professions that they are especially keen to recruit. Since Jase's job was also terminating at the end of this year, we thought it wouldn't do any harm to apply. After all, we had always said that we would return to Sydney some day, since we have loved it so much the first time we lived there in 2002.

The photos were all taken by me when we lived out there in 2002; brings back some wonderful memories!

We were really surprised when we were both invited to attend their expo over the weekend. We were told it would be an opportunity to meet potential employers and immigration officers to talk about living and working in Australia.

This came in the same week as I was told by work that they've secured the funding for the consultant post next year so would definitely be in the position to offer me a job if I were to apply. So you can imagine that we had slightly mixed feelings about our futures.

However, yesterday brought clarity to the situation. Jase and I were told in no uncertain terms that we would have no difficulty in applying for their skilled migration programme, and that once we have this 5 year visa, we would have the right to work anywhere in Australia we wanted (and not be tied to any particular job or location, unlike the employer sponsored migration).

Jase's old boss in Sydney emailed him to say that he could help Jase find a job in Sydney within the group. I spoke to the director of Medical Workforce development in New South Wales, who gave me her email address and told me that she could get me across to Sydney and a job as soon as I want, because of their severe shortage of people in my profession.

All quite a shock. But in an exciting way.

We both feel that we can also offer Lauren a better way of life in Australia too. After my time up north in Middlesbrough (OK, not a very attractive town but really nice, friendly people) I came to realise that we have really not settled well into London. I still find it dirty, aggressive, unfriendly and a hassle. It's not child friendly either. We would continue to find life tough here. It's also really expensive; I don't think we can really afford a bigger house in London, and schooling for Lauren would cost me £12000 per year (from the time she turns 3).

Of course, we would miss our parents and Lauren would miss her grandparents. However, Jase's parents are retired and my parents are getting closer to retirement. I would hope that they would be able to come out to spend some time with us every year in Sydney, and we would certainly come back to the UK for visits.

We also have friends and family out there. Some of them have already said how excited they would be if we were to go back to live in Sydney. So we wouldn't be going into the unkown.

Sydney is calling and it is impossible for us to resist the call. Once I get my exam, we are going to start the application process unless something major intervenes in the meantime. It takes 9-12 months to get the visa, so we would plan to go in late 2007 or early 2008. Plenty of time to get sorted until then.

Today, Lauren and I are at home having some time together. She's been playing on her nest of cushions on the floor and we've been watching the Teletubbies. It's been lovely to have some time together after all that studying. I need to hit the books again soon, but in the meantime, we're having some quality time together.

Exam results, Part 1

Last week, I was teaching mid-week at Guys and Tommies so didn't have much time for updating the blog. Jase and Lauren both caught the tummy bug and were unwell mid-week. However, it was relatively mild as they were both better after 48 hours.

During the week, I got an email from my College saying that if I wanted, they could email me the results of my written exam on the Friday. I was quite surprised as we were originally told that we would not find out until late November.

Of course, I emailed them back to get my result.  I can't imagine that anyone would not want to know!

Anyway, I got my result on Friday.

I passed!!!

As you can imagine, I was thrilled. It's not the whole exam, and I do have two more components to sit, but I was most worried about this written paper.  Scarily, it will all be over in 4 weeks' time.

I just can't wait to get on with my life. Everything seems to have ground to a halt whilst I've been working towards this exam.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rewind to last weekend

Ok, I admit I've been a little slack lately when it comes to posting on the blog. I have good reasons though (honest!) - last weekend I was feeling unwell and this last week has been one hectic blaze of events.

Last weekend, I came down with some stomach bug and slept most of the weekend. Jase took Lauren out to Chiswick to go food shopping, but ended up having ice cream and cakes! I have photographic evidence...

Lauren waits patiently for daddy to decide on the order...

Lauren charms the waitresses...

Lauren with a full tummy after the ice cream!

When they came home, there was time for a story with Mama before going for a nap in the afternoon.

Lauren clearly likes her new book!

We had a good weekend!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Steak Dinner

Before Hubert left on Thursday, we took him out to dinner for one last steak dinner in London. We took him to the Pacific Bar and Grill in Chiswick, where we had had an excellent dinner before.

He's planning to leave for the US next week if his visa comes through in time. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and had to take pictures on my camera phone, which does not cope with low lighting conditions very well.

So apologies for the graininess of the photos. They look better at the smaller size; however, still not bad for a 2 megapixel camera on a phone with no real flash!

We all had a good time and the food was really good. When it came to dessert time, Lauren had some strawberry ice cream and almost everyone else had a chocolate fondant in hot chocolate sauce. I had their baked cheesecake which is excellent. Lauren ate some of my dessert too!

We were all sad to say goodbye to Hube, but he's promised that he will start a blog of his life in the US with Bonnie, so that we can all keep up to date with their news. We all wish him every happiness in his new life with Bonnie and are looking forward to hearing all about it!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Exam Blues

Thank goodness that written exam is over.

Unfortunately, it wasn't what any of us had expected. All the questions that people thought might come up didn't. It didn't resemble any of the practice papers any of us had done. I'd say that in the main, about 90% of the things I revised were useless. I had to dredge distant memory banks (and guess) to answer the questions.

We were tight for time. A few people did not finish the last few questions. At least I finished, so I feel a bit better for it.

Luckily, I did manage to avoid the post-mortem of the exam which is almost inevitable. I banned anyone on our table in the pub from talking about it afterwards, and I think it did us good not to mull over it (unlike the guys on the table behind us!).

I'm sorry that I didn't post earlier in the week (I read all your supportive comments - thank you to all of you who did this) but I felt uncomfortable reliving the exam so soon after it. It was really stressful, but I think I'm calm about it. After all, no point worrying about something you can't change.

Results don't come out until the end of November after the next parts of the exam, so I have a long time to contemplate my fate...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"E"-Day tomorrow

OK, I admit it.

I couldn't help myself and am doing some last minute cramming. I know it probably won't do any good but I just feel that if I don't study, I might not do my best. I always keep thinking that I might see something that gives me just one more mark.

Sometimes, just one more mark is all it takes to avoid your hopes being dashed upon the rocks of despair...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Two days left

The written exam is on Thursday morning and my head is spinning with lists and lists of lists. I've no idea if any of it will stick, but I'm sure that blind panic is not helpful either. I can't feeling worried though.

Lauren has been really good today. I did worry after she woke up at 4:30am this morning, but luckily my mum got her back to sleep. She's been playing with Hube all afternoon. Later, we are going to take mum to the airport so that she can fly back to Scotland.

Tomorrow, the builders are coming back to sort out the bathroom floor. The grout between the floor tiles keeps cracking (I think because the tiles are on a wooden floor where there is movement) and they've been muttering about relaying it. Best to let them get on and do their worst! I'll probably be oblivious to it with some last minute revision anyway...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Celebratory meal

Last night, the family went out to the Royal China in Bayswater for a celebratory meal. We wanted to wish Hubert all the best for his new life in the US with Bonnie his fiancée. He is due to go to the US embassy next week for his final interview, and will be leaving to go to the US shortly after that.

We will all miss him! He is currently arranging shipping his stuff to the US. He and Bonnie are hoping to buy a house of their own in Chicago. They are lookig to get married the year after next.

We all had a great time. The food was very good and we all really enjoyed the peking duck and the lobster in particular. Even Lauren ate some!

It was a really good opportunity for the whole family to catch up, and sadly may be the last time for a while now. The whole family was talking about moving: Hubert to the US, Jase and Charlotte to the north of England (maybe in the next two years) and us (with the current uncertainty around our jobs). This will obviously make it more difficult for future family reunions.

Speaking of the job uncertainty, my Jase got some advice from other contracters at work and wants to get an additional qualification when he leaves his job. This should make it easier for him to start contracting himself. He feels that he wants to stay perhaps another year in London to get established, then we will be free to move on if we still want to leave London.

I've received an email from the Australian embassy inviting me to an interview with potential employers as part of their skilled migrant immigration programme. I am really quite excited and hope that there might be opportunity to Sydney, where we lived for a year. The interview is in 3 weeks' time, so I have to organise my documentation before then. I'm not sure what will come of it, but have realised that a lot of the things happening at the moment are beyond our control.

We're just going to see where this leads and go with the flow for now!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Home and away

It's fantastic to be home again after my week away on the revision course. Although very useful, it was really difficult being away for that length of time. I missed Lauren a great deal whilst I was away. She did get pretty upset some nights and obviously missed me too; however, mum, dad and Jase did a great job of cheering her up in my absence.

Mama Away 026

When I got home, I got a big hug and lots of kisses from Lauren, and she would not let me put her down for the first hour. I was so pleased that she had missed me and was glad I was home. The journey home had been slightly unpleasant as the air con in the train wasn't working in our carriage, leading to a hot and sticky journey. Fortunately, we were only delayed about 25 minutes.

Mama Away 032

I am doing some last minute revision just now. Although I got good feedback for the clinical and viva aspects of the exam from the revision course, I am really worried about the written paper next week. I have always found written exams difficult (all during medical school, during my primary post-graduate exams and now) so I am really dreading Thursday. I've noticed that it doesn't say what the pass mark is, so I don't know how good I need to be.

I feel nauseous thinking about it and that's a sure sign I need to get back to my revision...