Our 2016-17 UK Voyage
Saving Lives One Bag at a Time!
13 November 2016 | Mri Grout
I've been trying to donate blood ever since I was in highschool, but due to being too short and too light I was never able to for the USA requires females to be at least 150 pounds and 5'5" tall (something I would never reach...). However, these two requirements never stopped me from trying every time a blood drive popped into town, but every time, as you would expect, I was turned down. You'd think I'd give up after almost five years of being told no, but I really REALLY wanted to donate blood and help save someone's life and as Rob will gladly tell you, I'm way WAY too stubborn for my own good. Lols. Anyway, by the time I started traveling abroad I was of the belief that the blood donation requirements laxed after your 25th birthday, a mere 6 years away. Now I don't know if that was ever true or if I just misread something, but nevertheless it kept me hoping that one day I would be able to donate. Then while we were in New Zealand, I saw an ad asking for blood donors. And once again, I was denied due to my small weight and height. When we went to Australia, I saw another and again, I was denied. But then, a few days ago, I saw a request for Asians, blacks, and other minorities in the UK to donate more blood on Facebook. For those that are wondering, DNA between races is actually different; it's why we each have unique physical characteristics, why blood types need to stay together, and why some races are more or less susceptible to certain diseases. Now doctors, obviously, want to try for the least possible chance of a patient rejecting the blood transfer they're given and one way to do this is by factoring in the race of the donor. DISCLAIMER: I've had no medical training whatsoever; this is just my understanding of what I was told. Anyway, I was easily able to get in touch with the NHS (the UK's free healthcare system) and DUN DUN DUN! I was finally allowed to donate! Not because I suddenly grew 3 inches or gained 30 pounds, mind you, but because the UK requirements for a blood donor is different to the USA's. Now, I only had to weigh 50kgs (or 110lbs) and with no height requirements! Yay! So I booked my appointment, showed up, and though my screening process took longer than anyone else's (about 1.5 hours), I was finally able to donate some blood!
They even managed to knick my vein on the first try (something that never happens)! This was especially great because the needle they used was a heck of a lot bigger than the ones you normally get pricked with at the doctors. Lols. So after 10 minutes and 33 seconds (the average is 5-10), I was able to donate my first bag of blood! And I didn't even faint afterwards! Though technically I'm not out of the woods yet as the blood loss can take a full day to affect people. But I totally feel fine and it's been about an hour now. So yeah, who knew you could donate blood abroad? (:
Have you ever donated blood abroad? Or at home? Whichev. Isn't it awesome?
A Change of Seasons and Myself
09 November 2016 | Mri Grout
If you asked me to go on a 12 mile walk four years ago, I would have died of laughter. If you asked me two years ago, I would have died of pain. And now? Now I'm only crippled for like half a day or so! Talk about progress, am I right? (: I've come so far in the last few years that I've been on the road; I went form barely being able to walk up a flight of stairs to climbing up 3000 metres (or 9,000 feet) mountains. For fun! When I left home I only knew how to make a peanut butter sandwich and that was if I didn't give up after managing to cut myself three times with a butter knife... Now I can make quiches and lasagnes and curries and pies and pizzas - all from scratch! And medically, I used to have shaking fits when I overloaded with pain from many numerous, stupid triggers like the heat or standing up for too long or sitting still for too long or having any kind of crap on my back or any other numerous, stupid triggers. But now I just deal with it and like, well what can you do? And so I went out with Rob and the dog for a 12 miles hike around Derwentwater Lake in Keswick because a half or full day of being physically incapacitated is worth following one's dreams. And my dream for the day (once Rob finally managed to drag me out of bed despite my constant complaining and laziness...) was to capture the beautiful autumn colors of the lake district.
Now, I didn't make it the whole way around the lake, but luckily Rob's brother worked in a cafe along the way and I got to sit there with the dog while Rob went and fetched the car. Even better I got fed a full meal and a delicious vegan cake. Like, I don't even like regular cake and this thing was freaking amazing. And chocolate! And again, I don't even like chocolate! But it was fan-freaking-tastic that I ate the one I bought for Rob and then had to buy another one. So if anyone's looking for a lovely and eco-friendly cafe in Keswick, definitely head over to Kat's Kitchen.
Waiting Between Trains:Mri's Solo Adventure in Preston
02 November 2016 | Mri Grout
A letter came for me a couple weeks ago concerning my National Insurance (UK tax number) application which I submitted about a month back. Now because nothing in my life is ever easy these days I didn’t get my hopes up as it obviously couldn’t contain said number. And big surprise - It didn’t. Instead, it held a letter telling me about my upcoming appointment in Preston, which is a lovely two hours away on a day Rob would be working and I’d be all on my lonesome. But despite the anxiety of being on my own for the first time in over two years, I collected all of the paperwork required and then some and even spent thirty minutes searching for Rob’s passport while being extremely annoyed when I couldn’t find it in the drawer I could’ve sworn it lived in. I was just about to yell for him when I realized, oh yeah…that happened. Dag-freakin’-nab-it! With luck his driver’s license would do and so after throwing that in the bag I called it a done-for-the-night. My lunch I would pack tomorrow. And I did. And it was marvelous. Even if Rob says you can’t say, “Hm, I’ve got thirty minutes to go. What can I make for a packable lunch? Oh, I know, I’ll make a lasagna!” Because you totally freaking can. And I did. And it was marvelous.
After the appointment – where they didn’t even look at anything but my passport and marriage certificate – I had about three hours to wait between trains. There were earlier ones of course, but they all cost a bit more so instead I figured I’d just discover a whole new place in Preston. The top of my adventure list, as it always is in a new town, were the op shops – also known as charity shops in England or thrift stores in America. Google marked about half a dozen of them within walking distance, which was really exciting. Yep, been traveling for the last four years and during that time little mountains have turned into meh, but op shops are still freaking awesome. Lols. Anyway, I also searched for free attractions in Preston, but all that came up was an art museum and a park. Now what? I asked myself. Even if I lingered in the shops I’d have about two hours to kill outside in the cold. BUT OH NO, WAIT! Rob’s not here. Which means I can visit the art museum! Boo yah! Oh, I should go away on my own more often! ^_^ So...my love for him might not come across very well, but it is totally there. Somewhere. Lols. Ahaha. Anyway, due to Rob’s absence I was able to enjoy three whole floors of beautiful and crazy looking art as well as small sections of a museum. I learned that even pregnant ladies wore corsets, they had music players way back in the late 1800s that were strapped to ladies’ butts and were played every time they sat down (though only one song was available, which was ‘God Save the Queen’), and soldiers were issued souvenirs of capture because for some reason they wanted a memento other than PTSD.
Now, I’m not the biggest art fan and I don’t really like the Mona Lisa, but I know what appeals to me and there was one magnificent painting that definitely did.
For here’s a woman that clearly knows her mind. It’s called ‘Pauline in the Yellow Dress’ and was created by Herbert Gunn in 1944. Her seductive smile and bright yellow dress was so unique to the times that thousands of people came to see her on opening day despite the harsh reality of World War II. Unfortunately, however, by the time I made it to the last floor I was running out of time and so only did a quick run through the ceramics, local history, and a few other sections that I don’t really remember. I wish I got to stay for another hour, but I guess I’ll just have to come back another time. (: With only a few minutes to spare I made it back to the train station, took off my glasses to give my eyes a bit of rest, and then noticed the train as soon as I got a lot of stuff out of my day bag. Frantic to catch it, I hurriedly scooped everything up, hoped I didn’t forget anything, and rushed to the train. Or rather the empty tracks because news flash, I’m freaking blind without my glasses. You’d think after having them for twenty years I’d remember that.