Christmas and new beginnings

I am writing this on the first leg of our journey making our way across the world from winter rain in Scotland to tropical rain storms in Zambia. To save on train fares we decided to take a route which has the advantage of letting us personally experience the platforms of over 6 stations in England but the disadvantage of taking 11 hours and therefore almost as long as our flight towards Africa. D has joked that we are carrying out a stepwise approach to adjust ourselves from a delightfully luxurious time with his family (which included having a second Christmas day, lots of tea and cake and an endless supply of home baked chocolates always displayed on a star plate which became infamous) to our Zambian life by going home to my Suffolk family for a weekend before we leave. I am not really sure how to take this! Since finishing what was an amazing diploma of tropical medicine in very early December and saying an affectionate farewell to Liverpool and all our new friends we both travelled back to Bristol for two weeks of locum work at our old hospitals covering the joyful options of Geriatric rehab and psychiatry whilst catching up with lovely old friends. We then took full advantage of not working over Christmas this year and spent a whole full 9 days at each of our families which has been a huge treat.

Some memories which spring to mind over the last few weeks have included –

– visiting Berlin with M to see my grandparents, where we stayed one night in a community house of 33 people which had been originally claimed by squatters and which still involved a lot of graffiti and bare light bulbs and was much too cool for us. We reached my Grandather’s by taking a subway and a ferry where we spent several minutes taking photos and waving at a lovely elderly couple dressed in grey and green wool with felt hats before we realised that G and I were actually approaching from another direction! We stayed up late with them in their beautiful minimalistic wooden apartment eating gherkins and poring over photo albums from over 60 years ago. We then travelled down on Germany’s equivalent of a Megabus to Dresden which was all lit up with warm Christmas lights and people drinking mulled wine where we stayed with my Grandmother in her little new studio apartment and had lunch in the Steiner old peoples home next door.

-windswept walks on the beach with my family who were all reunited for Christmas in Suffolk discussing B’s recent and exciting international engagement, laughing at J for being the perfect-peter child, extremely competitive tournaments of ‘Ticket to Ride’, squash, table football and scrabble – which were won almost exclusively by an increasingly smug 9 year old N or 27 year old D. We drank sloe gin round the wood burning stove into the night whilst talking about the year of 2015 and reviewing L and S radiant wedding photos whilst eating hundreds of satsumas and German biscuits.

-watching in complete bemusement as K one of the 15 year old Eritrean boys who lives with my family took full advantage of the buffet at a Boxing day party and we found in the kitchen gobbling down a plate of raspberry panacotta combined with a third of a circle of Brie cheese all lathered generously in double cream.

-having a second Christmas morning in Glasgow with towels wedged into all the living room windows to stop the rain pouring in through a leak in the roof whilst S sat on the sofa completely unperturbed wearing a banana onesie, a flat cap and reading the newspaper.

We have felt very happy and lucky over the past few weeks to see so many of our families and friends in between a few stressful moments applying for jobs for next August, final exams at Liverpool with obscure memory techniques to try to hold on to snippets of the vast array of information and D having to put up with me waking up in the middle of the night to remind him of our “Zambia insulin plan” or the fact that we need to buy another metre of string as we finalise packing for going away.  It has been lovely to have the time to have long conversations with people, to start thinking about things completely outside of medicine again and for D and I to discuss what we have learnt during the first half year of our adventure and what we are looking forward to as we prepare for the second half.

We fly to St Francis Hospital on Monday and I am hoping to keep up writing more regularly over the next 6 months. If you want to find out any more about the hospital there is a link to the website here: http://www.saintfrancishospital.net/

Thank you so much for being interested in the small detail of our lives, we would love to hear from you all too and how you are. Hope you are all feeling hopeful at the start of this new year, 2016, with courage and strength whatever it make bring. We have been thinking a lot about the prayer read at our wedding which I wanted to share with you.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Sir Francis Drake – 1577

 

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