Nella Martin

an appointment with a nurse in practice

Sweet Potatoes

photophoto (2)

I’ve noticed that this little blog is in danger of becoming dominated by food, however I suppose that makes sense, food is the main thing that I think about!  So much of my time is given over to shopping, making packed lunches (although husband has taken to making his own colourful salad creations) and of course dinner. Every day dinner has to be given some thought, ingredients obtained and prepared. Today it’s over to the sweet potato. They are very popular in this household. Husband prefers his curried, D2 roasted or mashed, D1 doesn’t mind how they come and when she is home from Uni is generally grateful for any food that she hasn’t had to forage for or prepare herself. Unlike potato potatoes, sweet potatoes count towards your five a day. I also found them to be the perfect weaning food for babies. Today at husband’s request I’ll be making a sweet potato and chick pea curry. I mostly make it up as I go along and I never measure anything. D1 will be reading this so she can use it on her Uni house mates!!

Fry onion, garlic and fresh chopped tomatoes, or use a tin if no fresh around.

Add herbs and spices to your own tastes, again this varies each time, I generally add cumin, mustard, coriander, turmeric, cardamom and ginger, then I separate some out for D2 before adding in fresh chillies with a little chilli powder, you could just use a curry paste if you prefer though.

Then add the chopped sweet potato and really any other vegetables you have about, sometimes I add in courgette or aubergine, maybe a carrot, some red pepper to make it even more colourful, finally put in the pre cooked chick peas and simmer for about 20 mins. Serve with rice or bread. Quick, very simple, cheap and nutritious.

D2 has another little friend round to play tonight, she only eats pasta, chips or pizza. I feel really lucky that mine eat almost anything really.


Chicken Pie

Chicken pie was demolished without ceremony by three, nine-year old little girls and one huge husband.

Chicken Pie

It’s another cool but gloriously bright and bird chirpy spring day! Twin girls from further down our lane, came here this morning to walk to school with D2, their three little faces were all sunny and chatty to match the day. They didn’t want me to walk with them, so three little red and grey dressed nine-year olds set off to school, calling for another along the way. I want to record these moments, they are so fleeting. She is my last, before I know it there will be no little youthful face to wave off to school.

I have an annual leave week, however I’m going into a care home to do some outstanding health checks this morning. It’s a lovely home. You only get to read about the bad ones in the press, yet all around us are care homes with hard-working staff, working for minimum wage doing their very best and with real affection for the people that they care for.

I roasted a chicken yesterday, I paid extra to try to ensure that it had been a happy chicken. I’ve salvaged enough of it to make chicken and mushroom pie for dinner tonight. I cyber spoke with a friend of mine last night about pastry making, To me it’s one of the quickest and easiest things to do, I’ve never bought ready-made. I think that’s from all those early years spent with my Grandmother and helping her bake, I don’t have to look at a recipe, the amounts and hows have been etched in my brain alongside my first words. If I ever develop Alzheimer’s, I will remember how to make pastry right up to the very end. I do meet many disadvantaged families through work and It always saddens me that so many people do not know how to cook even the simplest of meals from scratch, to them cooking is switching on the oven to heat up oven ready prepared foods. It’s such a very important part of life and living healthily. I believe that there is a real need for schools to include food and nutrition with some cookery classes on the curriculum. It will probably do many people more good than some of the other subjects that will be instantly forgotten and never used again. Some people will argue that those skills should be learnt at home, but sadly if the parents do not have the skills and many do not, there is nobody to teach the children.

Finance management is another important life skill, not one that I’ve ever been good at. Information on credit cards, APR, loans, mortgages and budgeting should also be taught in schools because again if many parents struggle with this themselves how can they help their children. They are my thoughts this morning!! I need to go to do those health checks now.

Shopping and Loyalty Schemes.

I loath supermarket loyalty points schemes. They make me feel trapped, obliged, hoodwinked even. Some send out vouchers for extra points if you buy certain products. Husband has always collected them, he would  leave them out for me. I would then have to try to remember to pick them up and take them with me, remember what they were for, remember to get them out of my pocket and give them in at the checkout, Invariable every single one would be invalid for some reason, “Not that one love, it’s for the bigger size”, or “you need to get three of these” or “it is only if you spend over £10 on oranges.”

Husband would also count up his points gleefully each month and see how many miles he could fly with them. He still sometimes mentions with disbelief about the years I shopped at JS without bothering to get a Nectar card. He has several loyalty cards in his wallet. I, however, usually go about my day without a purse or wallet, preferring to just have my debit card in a pocket somewhere about my person, hence I would find myself at a supermarket without the necessary card.

“Keep your receipt love and you can put your points on at the customer service desk next time” the checkout person would say to me. I’d feel a sense of fleeting alarm that I must try not to lose this receipt and I must remember to bring it back next time and I must come to this chain of supermarket and not forget and go to another instead. Moments later the receipt would be forgotten, languishing on my car floor or in the car door, maybe in my pocket to be washed with my jeans or screwed up forgotten at the bottom of the carrier bag. It’s the same with the little piece of paper/coupon they give you now if you could have shopped for 67p cheaper elsewhere. For all of 5 seconds I think “I must keep that safe” then it’s forgotten, most probably it has a fate similar to that of the receipts, but the truth is, that I don’t really know what happens to them!

I’ve now rebelled defiantly against points and prizes giving supermarkets. I prefer to shop at Aldi or Asda, neither has a loyalty card scheme and this suits me very happily. I save money as It does work out cheaper. Same for Morrisons. I decided to go to Morrisons today, normally schemeless but to my horror,  the lady gave me a coupon/leaflet thing. I have to shop three times to get £10 off my shopping bill or 10p off a litre of fuel or maybe both. I looked at the coupon in disbelief and went through all my usual anxieties. I’ve just tried to find it, but I can’t, it’s gone, somewhere… .. I’m NOT going back there.

International Women’s Day

On my kindle in bed, I’ve just been reading the harrowing personal accounts of some women across the world. Mothers having to abandon children too heavy to carry as they flee wars zones, this in an attempt to save the majority of their children. Young girls walking barefoot for many miles to fetch dirty water. Girls denied an education because of their gender and women with no access to obstetrics care or contraception. Girls subjected to genital mutilation, forced marriages, trafficked girls. Girls missing school once they start menstruating due to having no sanitary protection.

I consider my own life and that of the women and girls around me. We have so much. Money may be tight at times and my husband messy, but I chose to marry him and to only work twenty-seven hours a week to balance child care needs. If I didn’t make the very most of the thirteen years of free education offered to me at school, there are adult education classes available to me now, the basics or a foreign language, or I could learn to paint or arrange flowers. My clitoris and genitals have been left intact so that I can enjoy a fulfilling sex life. I have access to free contraception so that I’m not forced to give birth every year as many women do. I turn on the tap for clean water. I can be single, marry or divorce as I wish. Work full-time, part-time or stay at home to bring up children. I have these choices. I can reject my husband’s sexual advances and carry on reading my kindle, the worse that would happen is that he would be slightly forlorn but only until he starts looking at which horses are running today and getting excited about Saturday football matches. My daughter is studying chemical engineering at University,  still a very male dominated field, she is one of six females out of a cohort of fifty students. We still need to go some way with addressing certain gender biases in our society, however there is nothing actually preventing any of our daughters from reaching out and having the same opportunities available to our sons and vice versa. I have my own bank account and my own money, choices, today, do I spend my seventy pound a week grocery budget in Tesco, Aldi or Asda???  In fact in many ways I have more choices than my husband,  I buy and cook as I wish within the finances available to me, he has to eat what I purchase and decide to cook for him!
It wouldn’t take so very much for our infrastructure to collapse, events such as war and natural disasters could see us subjected to a plight similar to many women and girls around the world, it is a sobering thought.

Of Men and Cakes.

It’s very hard to go sugar-free when your work place resembles ‘The Great British Bake Off’. M is something of a feeder and frequently tries to fatten up all her colleagues with yummy baked goodies. J however isn’t, or rather hasn’t been to date. He came to work with a ginormous and very marvellous German Marble Pound Cake. He said it took him all day to bake, I can believe this, if J is going to do something he does do it properly. At his first attempt he used granulated sugar instead of caster sugar, on realising his mistake and doing a little research which stated that it might alter the texture slightly, he discarded the mix. It would have been fine and I was rather a little dismayed to hear this. In my own very personal experience with men and baking or cooking, they like to stick to the very exact letter of any recipe or cooking instructions, where as women folk, probably out of necessity, will improvise, alter and  experiment with happy abandon. I do of course know that many men cook out of necessity also, but traditionally and still even in this day, women do the majority of baking and cooking to feed their families. With men like J and my husband, when they decide to do something special, it’s more for entertainment, a hobby, art and they don’t want to fail in that endeavor.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, that I had to eat two lots of cake yesterday before attending the Elvis V Jackson curry night and it’s so very hard to keep within ones daily calorie limits when one has to work and socialise with people!

Splinters V QOF

I saw twenty-one patients yesterday, this morning I have fourteen in total booked in. February and March are always busy times for GPs and practice nurses as they try to complete as many QOF (Quality Outcome Framework) targets/points for the practice as possible. Which is why, if you come to see me with a splinter but you have an asthma diagnosis and haven’t been for an asthma review this year, the computer screams, sings even does a dance to tell me that. In fact, eventually, I reckon GPs and PMs will make our doors unopenable until every missing QOF point possible has been extracted from a patient before they are allowed to leave the surgery. Points do mean prizes, so your splinter will be secondary, I won’t be worried about it, if I am and decide to operate with a needle, as I do it, I will be asking how many times this week have you used your blue inhaler, do you get wheezy at night? when you walk up the stairs? I have just removed a splinter, wedged full length under somebody’s fingernail, it even made me feel a bit queasy poking about with needle, scissors, scalpel and tweezers until I managed to grab it, VERY triumphantly!

Village life.

Yesterday I spent the day in the village. D2 walked herself to school. There is very much a going back in time feel to the place, sadly in 2014 in many towns and cities parents don’t feel that it’s safe for 9 year olds to walk themselves to school. Tucked away here at the end of the world, with no through traffic, it’s probably as safe as you are going to get anywhere. I shopped in the village, bread from the bakers, lamb chops from the butcher for husband and his mate the plumber, fruit and veg from D, who comes in a van three times a week to the village square and has been doing so for over 30 years. He is overweight, wheezy, the nurse part of me has him diagnosed with COPD and diabetes without ever having seen him in surgery. His wares are haphazardly displayed, I asked for beetroot, he replied that “it’s ‘ere somewhere love but I’m sorry oi can’t find it” He said that last week about the chillies!!

D2 had sewing club after school but had left her sewing box at home, I walked up to school to give it to her at home time. At 3.15 the school emptied out and the village was alive with mini book characters, witches, fairies, where’s Wallys, Wandas, one Stig, princesses, pirates, footballers, Matildas.  It was amusing to see.

Husband had asked for his mate to come for dinner, they had requested the chops, I deliberated with the butcher how many lamb chops they would eat each, he knows them both, we settled on three. I didn’t eat with them as I had to take D2 out, I ate with her earlier. I love listening to Plumber Mate and H gossip away. P is divorced and not having as much luck as he would like with the ladies, he was asking for any handy tips, apparently they all say that they like him lots but view him as a friend or like a brother and don’t seem to want to sleep with him. I chuckled away to myself. He is great fun and company but as I look at his 5o year old ruddy drinkers face and think of his very old fashioned views I know exactly why the ladies are holding back.!

I took D2 to Jiu Jitsu for the first time. She loved it and was keen to practise her defense against strangulation techniques when she got home.

I need to head off to work now. I have no idea what patients I have booked in today, I prefer the element of surprise.

Spring Time

It’s a beautiful, bright and sunny day. Spring has definitely sprung. The first daffodils and crocuses are out. This is when I most appreciate living in a rural village, it’s been a long, wet, soggy winter and the splashes of colour suddenly emerging really do induce feelings of happiness and optimism. Some trees are already getting tiny, tight buds and a few are showing off with splendid displays of blossom.


I had a FB message from The Boy to say that he was too ill to go to school this morning, could I let them know.? I kinda feel that at aged 18+ students should be able to do this themselves, but no, the school still needs parents to authorise absence or it counts as unauthorised. I call him, we have an attempt at a chat, about A levels, one tutor is via a web cam rather than face to face. He still doesn’t know what he would like to do, or rather he does know what he’d like to do. He wants to play games as in video games, he will however have a stab at Uni or even at maybe getting a job, it depends on his grades. I’m not really sure if I feel reassured or not, mostly, I think it’ll all work out, somehow in someway for him and I don’t fret. D1 calls, she sent me a FB link to an article regarding sanitary towel production by a rural man in India, shocked at his new wife’s use of old rags that he wouldn’t even wash his bike with, he set out to manufacture affordable sanitary wear. It’s a wonderful article, even more impressive is that it comes from D1, who would put her fingers in her ears and sing ” la la la, I’m not listening” if I so much as mentioned anything to do with periods or feminine hygiene products in those early teenage years.
Mother called, she has had no electricity all day, I never found out the reason, half of the conversation was directed at B2’s dog.
FB today is mostly dedicated to pictures of people’s pancakes and the village mums requesting costume bits for world book day dressing up tomorrow, I’ve loaned out 2 witches hats and borrowed plaits on a head band.
H’s dog walking appears to have taken him to his mate the plumber who handily lives a couple of doors down from the pub.
D2 is sound asleep, exhausted from her Tower of London school trip, they did see the crown jewels!!
I have another day off tomorrow…..