Month Without Junk

March 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Posted in General, Random | Leave a comment
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For February I decided to try life without coffee and Coke. My co workers later added crisps and chocolate and this basically morphed into any and all junk food.

As someone who drinks several cups of coffee and at least one Coke a day while living off the produce found in vending machines how did things go?

Days 1 and 2: I didn’t think I could be so run down and cranky. Everyone at work is annoying me. Are they just irritating or is this a symptom of withdrawal? I’m trying desperately to supplement my lack of coffee with tea from the machine in our building. Nope. No help. I want coffee! Nope. must stick to it.

Odd. I managed that. Surprising level of commitment there.

Day 3: I just want something sweet. Like Coke. Coke would be so tasty. Mmm sugar. Swapping Coke for fruit juice and fresh fruit tubs from EAT.

I still feel fatigued but better for switching junk for good. Unless the juices are also filled with unhealthy preservatives… At least my intent is a good one.

Days 4 and 5: I need to create some energy and if I’m being healthy I should try and do as much as possible so I started checking out gyms. I finally settled on Virgin Active because it has a swimming pool. It’s been so long since I went for a swim!

I went and worked out. It was exhausting and exhilarating. Afterwards, I need to get some sleep but over the month steadily things improve and my recovery feels like it is getting better.

Day 6 and 7: My first weekend. Normally, I’d go to my local cafe. Drink coffee, read and surf the web. Again, I substituted in a non-caffeine drink. This time a banana smoothie. Over both days I ended up sleeping in a lot more without the coffee jolting me awake.

Replacing one drink with another is fine but I do miss coffee on those cold days and nights where the only substitute is tea.

While cutting tea wasn’t on my list I did try and keep it to a minimum because it obviously contains caffeine. Although if tea can create an entire ceremony there must be something to it.

Week 2:Spending more time at the gym. If I didn’t have podcasts to listen to I’d be bored so quickly. I could probably use the time more productively (given that seems to be the theme this month) and listen to some of the language lessons and perhaps get back on that goal. Although that seemed to require a bit too much mental energy when I’m desperately trying just to run. Then again, listening to Dave and Joel is a disaster as well given I can’t help laughing mid stride and getting dangerously close to falling off.

I assumed that I would save money not drinking coffee or eating junk food but this was more than offset as I was eating more frequently and the food is generally of a higher quality than 40p crisp packets.

Week 3: This week I stumble a little. One night after getting back from the gym I went straight to see Juno and by the time I got back it was too late to buy groceries so I ordered a Dominos pizza and I ate it all. Yum! Fat! 

The other thing I’ve noticed is at the bar. Again not on the list but I did want to limit my consumption plus my normal drink is a Rum and Coke so when you’re at a bar what can you order if you don’t want a mix drink or a beer? For me ordering only water is a little sad so I’d get whatever beer is on tap and nurse it.

That is unless someone buys me a drink because not accepting it would be rude, right?

Week 4: Things must be going well. I’ve received compliments this week. People say I look slimmer and healthier. I feel that way too! I wonder if it’s the combination of better food and fitness than cutting out Coke etc per se?

Week 5: I’ve now gone past the month and looking forward to the end of the week when I’m meeting some friends from overseas and heading up to Manchester. I’ve decided this will be the official end of my junk food fast.

I had beautiful Choca Mocha Glories from Coffee at Goswell, a few pizzas, wine and several other coffee and Cokes as well as chips and other junk food.

I’ve enjoyed my month off and will probably be keeping the junk food away except as a sometimes food.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garrett

February 3, 2008 at 10:53 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Random, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Britain’s only surviving 19th century operating theatre was today’s tourist spot. The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garrett is a relatively small museum hidden in a fairly non-descript building near London Bridge. While on St Thomas street keep an eye out for number 9, a church like building – perhaps quite difficult to differentiate in London – and hopefully you’ll have found the museum. A quick climb up the narrow spiral staircase and you’ll be at the gift shop/ ticket counter. For £5.40 (adult) you can proceed up another staircase to the attic that houses the display cases and operating theatre.

The Herb Garrett is the main section and has cases holding various instruments with helpful and occasionally disturbing descriptions of their medical use during the 1800s. As you walk around you’ll also be exposed to a range of smells as the exhibit includes examples of items in an apothecary because “herb garrett” as the name implies was used to dry, of all things, herbs. The final piece of note about this section is the array of body parts held in jars. Most concerning was definitely the lungs of a Londoner (black not the normal pink).  I hope that’s just a result of heavy industrialisation and not still the same as today.

The Operating Theatre is a picture of a pre-hygienic medicine with wooden benches and an open viewing area for students to watch the surgeons work. One of the staff will give a talk (about 30 minutes) and you should definitely take the time to listen. You will get a synopsis of the building (this is a female operating room housed in a church, specifically above the nave – sounds sacrilegious!), the profession of surgeons and the quality of medicine during the period. Due to infection and blood loss the most common operations were removing gall stones or amputation (in both cases it would have to be a severe case).

The entire museum is fairly interesting and the talk is particularly worthwhile, especially if you have an interest in medicine, the Victorian period or a potentially unhealthy curiosity. When visiting this hidden museum you might be lucky and bump into friends! They also have activities for children although it would be at your discretion how much (if any) of the talk they listen to as it can be graphic.

My major reservation is the cost. The museum is run as a charity and therefore needs the ticket price and donations for its upkeep but I would suggest that an entry fee closer to £4 would be a more appropriate to the floor space and the time spent in the attic. Realistically, the pound difference is a personal price point and won’t be a significant factor for most. There were certainly quite a few people in the museum and seemingly unconcerned by the cost.

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