I’ve moved house… again

Three houses in a terrace. The left most has a gable. Each has a door and four windows. Mind is the middle on.
My new house in sunny Crail is the middle one of these three.

After 871 days (that is 2 years, 4 months and 20 days) as warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall, University of St Andrews, I’ve hung up my gown and moved on.

I loved being warden, living and working amongst around 540 students and supporting a team of six assistant wardens. But it wasn’t great for my health, to be honest. It turns out you sometimes need sleep and time for yourself. And for many weeks I got little of either.

So I have moved back down the Fife coast to the East Neuk and am living in a wee two-bedroom mid-terrace house in Crail.

This is my third house move in as many years.

I’m much closer to my children now, and it’s an area that I used to cycle around over the years so I’m looking forward to getting out on my (newly serviced) bike over the next few months and gently improving my fitness.

From top to bottom: Isaac, Reuben and Joshua, sitting on the stairs. They are all wearing school uniforms.
From top to bottom: Isaac, Reuben and Joshua

The boys like my wee house and have been over to stay for a few weeks, and a few overnights during the week too.

I needed to buy a dining table and benches and a couple of chests of drawers (at Ikea, of course) plus a bunch of storage boxes for linen and shoes. But two weeks in and I have fully unpacked now and organised almost everything the way that I’d like it.

Here is to relaxing for a bit, regaining my fitness, losing the 2 inches or more than I put on my waist over the last 871 days, and figuring out where life will take me next. It’s exciting…

Looking back at 2017

Joshua (then 8), Snowy Jr. (rabbit) with Isaac (6) and Reuben (then 8) on the Queensferry Crossing, Saturday 2 September 2017.
Joshua (then 8), Snowy Jr. (rabbit) with Isaac (6) and Reuben (then 8) on the Queensferry Crossing, Saturday 2 September 2017

My Christmas letter for 2017.

Hello! How are you? I hope you’ve had a good 2017 amidst the craziness and uncertainty of the world around us. I hope that you’ve had more than a few moments of joy and happiness and laughter.

This year has been a tough one for me, especially my health. From March through June I was signed off work suffering from pneumonia. I was burned out and came down with a handful of infections that my body was unable to fight on its own. After a late phased-return in August/September I went off again at the end of September when it became clear that I still had pneumonia. (That would explain the breathlessness, exhaustion and near-constant headaches then!)

I’m back to work now, and feeling much, much better. I just need to get fit again and lose a lot of weight. One positive thing that came out of this year was my learning to sleep properly again. My sleep has been disturbed for a decade or more. I’m learning just how important sleep is, and how much more I now get done because I’m rested and feeling fresher. Who knew?!

Continue reading Looking back at 2017

The Vale of Rest by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 1858-1859.

Two nuns in a graveyard at dusk, one sits looking at the viewer, holding prayer beads, the other has sleeves rolled up digging a grave
The Vale of Rest by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 1858-1859

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

I was chatting with a friend the other night about art, and about visiting art galleries. It got me thinking about this painting, The Vale of Rest, by Sir John Everett Millais that used to hang in the Tate gallery on the north bank of the Thames back in the mid-1990s.

Continue reading The Vale of Rest by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 1858-1859.

Meet the Other Gareth Saunders

Oyster card

Recently, while reviewing various online accounts, I discovered that my Oyster card—the travel card used on London transport—was out of date: a first generation Oyster card. I was advised to apply for a second generation Oyster card.

As I was completing the form I wasn’t able to select ‘Rev’ from the options available, so I selected ‘Other’.

This is the letter I received today, with my replacement card.

Wait! This letter isn't for me, it's for the Other Gareth Saunders.
Wait! This letter isn’t for me, it’s for the Other Gareth Saunders.

Why I decided to SHARE my blood for medical research

The word share surrounding by multi-coloured speech bubbles

Although I attend clinics at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee on a regular basis, on account of my having inherited autosomal dominant polycystic kidney (ADPKD) disease from my dad, the last time I visited Ninewells Hospital in Dundee was when I accompanied a really close friend to her clinic appointment.

While I was waiting for her to finish, I got chatting to a woman in the waiting room who turned out to be a coordinator for SHARE. She told me about the scheme and I signed up straight away.

What is SHARE?

SHARE, the Scottish Health Research Register, is a new NHS Research Scotland initiative created to establish a register of people interested in participating in health research.

When you sign up for SHARE you agree to allowing them to use coded data in their various NHS computer records to check whether you might be suitable for health research studies.

One example is in allowing SHARE to use any leftover blood following routine clinical testing.

This can be incredibly useful when it comes to developing new tests, treatments and cures for a wide variety of health conditions.

Why I joined

Every time I visit the renal clinic—currently every six to nine months—I have blood taken to check my kidney function. They can’t possibly use it all when they do their tests, so I thought it sensible to give permission for my leftover blood to be used for research purposes.

As I write, there are currently 177,848 people registered.

You can find out more on the Register for SHARE website from NHS Scotland.