Lurgy begone!

Once again I have failed to update this in… a long time. Needless to say, quite a lot has happened!

Probably the most important thing to report is that I have now finished my Masters, and have just embarked on my PhD! All incredibly exciting, and nerve-wracking, and I feel thoroughly bombarded with information after my first few days. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I am now a PhD student/postgraduate researcher. I feel as though somewhere along the line I’m going to wake up on a snowy January morning and find that the last few months have been a dream. Still, I expect this will go away after a little while. I’ve even started sticking motivational Post-It notes all over my flat just in case the Imposter Syndrome starts to kick in (I do love a motivational Post-It…).

Alas I have also been bombarded with lurgy, from somewhere, and have spent most of the weekend on the sofa. On the plus side, this is an excuse to drink many cups of tea (not that I really need an excuse…) and eat spicy food (I don’t really need an excuse for that either). Also apparently the jury is still out on whether avoiding dairy is necessary when you have cold, so I’m going to inhale the bar of Hotel Chocolat salted caramel milk chocolate I bought to celebrate my Master’s result. I may live to regret this.

Making the transition to doing my PhD has also, along with the colder weather, inspired me to get my slow cooker out, so I’ve been making curry and stew again. I’d quite like to be (relatively!) healthy and have meals to batch cook and freeze instead of retaining my old habit of throwing a veggie burger and potato wedges in the oven of an evening. So, I’m planning to spend my Sundays preparing and cooking some more slow cooker meals. Pretty tempted by the vegan slow cooker cookbook too – I was vegan several years ago and I’d quite like to incorporate more vegan food into my currently-vegetarian diet.

Now, I’m off to pop the kettle on again…

Recent miscellany

I’ve just become aware that I haven’t updated this in ages – mostly because I’ve been inundated with work, both on the university and day-job front. My feedback from my other assignments was really pleasing, and really useful too, so that’s been a great learning experience. I now have another four assignments to finish off in the next few weeks, so I basically plan on virtually living at university on my days off for the next month or so!

In other news, I’ve rediscovered my rather substantial tea collection: as you might expect from a self-confessed tea addict, I have a lot of different types, and could probably spend a ridiculous amount of money in Whittard. Last term I drank a fairly silly amount of coffee — it seems to make factor analysis much easier! — but this term it’s all about the tea. I’m very fond of nettle tea at the moment, and rediscovering peach flavoured green tea. This is partly to do with finding ways to manage stress — coffee is great but it does make me very jittery, which isn’t ideal when stressed! — and partly to do with wanting to be a bit more frugal and therefore making my way through all the drinks I’ve already got before I buy any more.

Another thing I rediscovered recently is Lush’s Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo. I’m a big Lush fan, not only because of the gorgeous scents in their products but also their non animal-testing stance (yes I am a tree-hugging, animal-loving hippy at heart), but I’d used Rehab for years because my hair is very dry. I thought that would be the best bet, but actually Cynthia Sylvia is better because it’s not so heavy. I’m also pretty much in love with R&B hair moisturiser – I’ve only been using both of these for a few weeks but I can really see the difference in my hair. It’s much less dry now.


Well, I have now had one of my marked assignments back. I would like to say that I handled getting the feedback in a Rudyard Kipling’s If– sort of manner, treating triumph and disaster just the same and all that.

I… did not, I’m afraid. When I clicked on the feedback link and saw the ‘do you want to open or save this document?’ dialogue box, I may have thought, “no! I want to do neither! I want my mum!”, rung my mum and…

… upon seeing the word ‘Distinction’, burst into (very happy) tears.

Needless to say I was not expecting this at all. It really is a wonderful — though provisional! — surprise.

Ah well, I have two more assignments to practice and probably not succeed at being dignified over.

There was also very bad dancing. Very, very bad dancing. To I’m So Excited. I probably should not be admitting any of this to the blogosphere, but I am very pleased about all this.

And now I think I might need a cup of tea and a lie down after all this excitement. Luckily for me I’ve got a HUGE new tea mug (well, really it’s not specifically a tea mug but as it’s so big it’s good for making HUGE mugs of tea), with hearts on, so I can at least have a cup of tea. I doubt the lie down will happen – I probably won’t even sleep tonight, frankly. Coincidentally I also have a jumper with hearts on, which I might in a fit of superstitious/magical thinking dub my ‘lucky jumper’. I think perhaps everyone needs a lucky jumper.

Scaling the assignment mountain – and we’re at the summit!

Thankfully after several weeks of work and the attendant panic that goes with it, I’ve now finished and handed in all of my assignments. So it’s now a two/three week nail-biting period of waiting for the results to come out. I’ve found that the good thing about having a fairly hectic part time job alongside the Masters is that I don’t have a huge amount of time to spend fretting over what my feedback will be like or whether I’ll pass. Another good thing about having a hectic life is that when really scary periods of work and doom are over (my job has been super stressful over the last week) I have wonderful friends who take me out and buy me wine on a Friday night to make me feel better.

Term 2 has started too, so lots of work to do on new modules – more psychometrics and qualitative data analysis, and a totally new module on Structural Equation Modelling. This is something I’ve never done before but which I’m looking forward to because in the last few years I’ve become a bit of a stats geek. Nobody is more surprised by this than me because the thought of anything Maths-related used to bring me out in a cold sweat.

I’m also very excited because I bought my very first biscuit tin yesterday, so now I can have three types of biscuits on the go at one time! Apparently ever since I turned 30 things like biscuit tins have become very important. Of course I also bought a cake tin too. As you do. I’ve also had a box set binge and watched all three series of Miranda, which I really love, but oh the cliffhanger at the end of series 3!

And more to do for work on Monday, so I think it’s time to leave it there.

Cake and IPA

Christmas Eve and I’m almost finished with the first draft of my first Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) report. There will also be Baileys cake involved later on when I’ve finished working, so this is an appropriate first blog post (though my beverage of choice for most of today has been coffee rather than tea). I’m finding that I’m really enjoying doing qualitative work. A lot of it is new to me since a lot of what I’ve done before has been statistics and other methods (my dissertation involved a questionnaire and factor analysis). I love stats, but I’m also really enjoying trying new methods and reading about ideas that are completely new to me as well.

Hope all my fellow students (and lecturers!) have a wonderful festive season, and for anyone who’s lonely at Christmas the very funny Sarah Millican has a lovely idea:

Her new show is very good too – I saw her recently and really enjoyed her new material – and my new ‘Home Bird’ mug has become one of my go-to tea mugs.

Really looking forward to Christmas Doctor Who tomorrow as well!

And now back to work… (Until I need to wrap presents – yes I’ve procrastinated a bit where this is concerned!)