Monday, 21 February 2011

Marmalade, Valentine ’s Day and Happy Birthday to Jack!

I am feeling very tired today after a busy week working extra hours for the  uni, and submitting the dratted essay that finally went in by electronic submission at 1230 on Tuesday night. I’m afraid Valentine’s Day passed in a bit of a blur, although himself presented me with a beautiful bouquet of eucalyptus and proteus and deep orange daisies.  Just rubbing the leaves transported me back to the smell of the early morning bush when the gum trees exude the heady scent of eucalyptus oils.  I worked at the Excel centre promoting the School of health and Social Care on the university stand but had time to speak to my son Jack who was celebrating his birthday.  It is bad enough reaching the grand old age of 29 yourself but when your son gets there it really is a sobering realisation of your own mortality! 

The week started well with a trip to the 3pm Sunday performance of The Comedy of Errors in Greenwich. It was a brilliant performance and very funny.  I love being able to go to a theatre so close to home, easy to get to, and tickets much cheaper than the West End.  There are only about 60 seats so we were able to sit in the front row which meant we had a fantastic view of all the action.  I am now looking forward to   catching ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ the Catford theatre next month.

This trip was a present from my neighbour for helping make her marmalade.  She had fallen in the January snow and sprained her wrist so badly she is still recovering. Marmalade is probably the worst preserve to tackle under those circumstances and there is so much chopping involved.  Seville oranges are really bitter and totally unsuitable to eat raw. The season is very short, just the four weeks of January so there is always a mad scramble by all the marmalade making nerds like me!  The oranges come from Spain and their entire crop is exported to the UK!  The origins of this delicacy surrounded in myth and mystery.  One version is that a Scottish housewife invented it when confronted with a huge quantity these unpalatable fruits brought back by her ship’s captain husband.  Another is that the word comes from the Spanish (Mar = sea and malade =illness) and it was used as a cure for sea sickness. It first came as a sort of solid jelly slab a bit like the wonderful Spanish quince jelly served with cheese.

There are lots of great recipes on the internet and I can promise you that once you have tried the home made stuff you will always find the shop variety very disappointing.  I added whisky to the batch I made two years ago but this year I decided to try something different.  I have had a very large bottle of Bundaberg rum – (a Queensland classic!) sitting unopened from my last trip to Oz.  As neither of us likes the stuff, I added quite a large quantity to the hot marmalade before bottling it. All the alcohol evaporated leaving just a wonderful rich taste perfect for our morning toast! 

My next challenge is to try and locate unpickled silverskin onions.  Himself is such a fusspot about his and I have just about perfected my piccalilli recipe to his satisfaction  apart from the onion part.  It seems that all the supplies of silverskins go to the big manufacturers so I am left with having to use chopped up shallots or normal onions which just isn’t the same.  So the hunt is on!!

….meanwhile I must get on with some college work. My next piece is a 3000 ‘clinical concepts’ essay due in three weeks time – no rest for the wicked!

Friday, 11 February 2011


Well here I am again, sitting down about to do battle with my 3000 word case study. The deadline is next Wednesday so it’s time to concentrate my mind if I want any weekend to enjoy!

This is the first case study I have written for this course and I’ve been really struggling with it for a couple of weeks.  After reading the brief I was still pretty unsure of where to go with it and how to structure it so I borrowed a book from the library with, what appeared to be, a highly relevant ‘Writing a case study’ chapter’. Well that made it even worse!

The first instruction about ‘Choose your case study’  was okay.  I had already chosen to write about my very first client in my current placement.  The next instruction was to write about my orientation.  That’s where I really came unstuck!  My course is an integrative course where we look at all the major schools of thought  from humanistic and ‘person centred’  approaches to psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural therapy approaches. Sorry if that was just too much jargon but it would take a very large essay to explain them all!  I find myself  using quite an eclectic mix from the counselling ‘tool bag’ which can incorporate drawing, role play, and various collaboratively agreed homework tasks.  Trying to figure out my approach left me so confused that I did not know where to start.  Luckily I managed to have a good discussion with my supervisor, tutor and fellow students and I am feeling a lot better now.

It was so simple – my most important first task  always has been to build a good working relationship with my client .  That entails careful listening and questioning in a way to encourage exploration and curiosity and from that work flows the next steps and they will vary with the client and the situation.  As long as I can rationalise what I did and why, that is all that is expected at this stage.  What a relief!

I am realising that my approach is very much influenced by my years of independent midwifery where I worked very holistically with clients and their families.  That experience has a huge impact on my approach to my counselling work. Sometimes I am using tools that I don’t have a name for until I think about it afterwards!  The more I progress through this course, the more I want to learn and experience. 

….so time to crack on and get this case study written or I will still be at it when it’s time to go to see ‘A Comedy of Errors’ in Greenwich on Sunday afternoon. I had been really put off Shakespeare after being force fed him in school and I never realised he was so funny until the first time I saw this play performed on Streatham common many years ago.  It was a gorgeous summer’s evening as I sat on the grass with my friends sharing a picnic.  The play was performed by an extremely amateurish theatre company that kept making the most hilarious mistakes so it was a comedy of errors about a Comedy of Errors!  We couldn’t stop laughing although the bubbly we consumed probably helped!  

Well it’s now 11.40 and time to get writing or I really will be producing my very own Comedy of Errors which wont be so funny at re-sit time!

Friday, 4 February 2011

My Birthday Month :)

As I turn my calendar page from the dreary, grey month of January to the new month of February wonderful images come to me.  For me February is full of anniversaries, birthdays and expectation as the days become longer, and the garden begins to awaken.

Roll on Spring!
February is my birthday month.  I was born on the last day of Aquarius and my parents joked about the significance of my water carrier birth sign as we toted buckets of water around the garden in the month traditionally known for water rationing, drought and wilted gardens.  Back in those days my parents filled their garden with water hungry English roses, bedding plants, and Northern hemisphere bulbs. Australian plants were considered straggly, boring and only fit to populate the bush while pride of place in our back yard was taken by two enormous English Oaks grown from acorns planted as the house was being built in 1951.  In the Australian climate they grew three times as fast as they would have done in England and when, after sixty years, my parents moved from their house, those oak trees had taken over like giant triffids.

February is also the month my son was born, two and a half months early in 1982.  Three years later in February I was heavily pregnant with my daughter. Visitors brought armfuls of beautiful golden daffodils and now these joyful flowers always remind me of my babies – now considerably larger!

I met my present partner at the beginning of the first February of the new millennium and this Sunday we celebrate those such happy years together while we look forward to many more. I’m sure he is looking forward to not many more years of coping with me stressing over coursework deadlines and getting my referencing system right!  In our first year together I started my final year of my anthropology degree.  Poor thing got landed with proof reading my dissertation, and putting up with my son doing his final year of A levels and my daughter starting GCSE’s – not a particularly peaceful household.  It must have to be true love – we are still together!

When I was at school February was the start of our school year as we returned from our long summer holidays. Here in England February is buckling down time.  We are halfway through the academic year, tired from a long cold winter and working hard to meet coursework deadlines, the requisite number of clinical hours while balancing work and social life. 

Is this the cure for enquiry unit ear?
I have just begun working each Mondays in the Enquiry Unit which gives me one and a half days of regular hours per week.  On my first day it seemed that all I did was ask questions and bug all the more experienced staff but now I have been there three weeks I am finding my feet more.  I have discovered a new condition called Enquiry Unit Ear.  Its symptoms are one ear feeling quite warm, puffy and worn out after having a phone handset in close proximity for seven and a half hours!

My regular readers know that I have decided that I have moved New Year match with the Iranian New Year called Nowrah celebrated at the Spring solstice; this year it falls on the 20th March.  There is a wonderful Persian shop in Peckham called Persopolis where there will be celebrations with treats and different events – right up my street! As it is also my daughter’s birthday the next day we have even more to celebrate.