Evidence vs Email: the response

Around 3 years ago, I wrote an article, complaining about the tediousness and illegality of NHSmail, the compulsory email service that I am forced to use daily. At the time, filled with self righteousness, I emailed a copy of my rant to NHS.net support.

Logging out of NHSmail

It took two years… but they replied to me, so I thought I would include the email below, to those of you annoyed by many of the same features.

Whilst I don’t think it answers many of the points I put out, I do understand that they are on a limited budget: indeed, the whole future of the nhs.net system was put under threat under funding issues 12 months ago.

Ultimately, the bit that was most irritating, and that which strayed most from evidence, was the monthly password changes, which have since been changed to quarterly. So basically, I think I won.

Enjoy the letter below…



Thank you for taking the time to respond to our user survey.

I have been asked to contact you regarding NHSmail accessibility.

NHSmail has been designed as an accessible product for use by NHS staff and to be primarily accessed from an NHS location/device.  When accessing NHSmail from an NHS location as part of local information governance requirements this can only be done from an NHS device which must have protection against malicious software such as keystroke logging software.  Visually impaired or blind NHS staff can easily access the service from an NHS location/device where no on screen keyboard is displayed with either a desktop email programme such as Outlook or through the web browser which is AAA/AA compliant and both work very well with JAWS.

In addition to access from an NHS location the service does support incidental internet use subject to compliance with local information governance policies.  As someone could potentially logon from an unsecured internet end point such as an Internet café there is a real risk of the users password being intercepted by key logging software which is why we had to utilise the on screen keyboard.

Visually impaired or blind NHS members of staff can also take advantage of incidental internet use in a number of ways all subject to compliance with local information governance requirements.  As with NHS access, Outlook provides the best user experience with JAWS which has been confirmed by our many visually impaired/blind users of email.   Mobile devices can also be used.  The iPhone has for example a good built in capability and the TALKS software also works well with NHSmail. Finally should there be a specific requirement to not use Outlook e.g. local information governance requirements then we would expect the member of staff to raise this with their employer as part of their workstation assessment and request the ability to remotely access the NHS network from their device.

I note for example your comments on the password policy which was changed to a 90 day expiry period requiring only 4 changes a year.

While we have the same governance and financial constraints as the rest of the NHS we do strive to offer the best service we can.  I note for example your comments on the password policy which was changed to a 90 day expiry period requiring only 4 changes a year.  In terms of the password requirements we use the standard built in policy that comes with the product which is used by most NHS and business systems which is again in response to user feedback less complicated than it used to be.

If you would like to discuss this or indeed anything else about the service please feel free to call me.


[Name removed]
NHSmail Technical Architect

CMF National Conference

Jonathon LambThis was my third CMF event, and the one that finally prompted me to become a member. I also took my entire family along…

Given that I had a 0 year old, a 2 year old and a beautiful (but exhausted) wife with me, I was unable to do my normal ridiculously in-depth review of the event.

I can say that it was fantastic the level of child care provided: Joen spent most of the sessions eating raw pasta and pushing over other children, whilst at night, babysitting patrols roamed the corridors listening for crying. Without this, I don’t think we would have enjoyed things at all.

The topic of the conference was “Integrity”. Based on 2 Corinthians, the main sessions were led by Jonathan Lamb, head of international preaching at the Langham Partnership. I really enjoyed the talks, but if I’m completely honest, I also spent a lot of them standing outside, trying to stop a baby from vomiting & crying. There’s a preview below, or you can watch the full talks on the CMF website.

Aside from the main talks, there was a lot of fellowship, and some epic book salesmanship from the chap at TenofThose.com. I’m still working myself through the pile!

So, a pretty sparse review of the event, but I’d recommend it to anyone wondering how best to live life as a Christian and a doctor. Also, if you want to be a blogger who posts regularly, don’t have kids!


The Journey to Neriah

Our newly expanded familyOn Sunday, our little family got a little bigger. The beautiful Neriah Grace Lowry came into the world at 7:30pm. Just like Joen, the journey to Neriah was hard work.

Once again, thanks to everyone who followed the blow-by-blow account on twitterread it here - including at least two people over the age of 80. Who says social media is just for young people? Anyway, enough of that, on with the story…

I’m currently working in Lincoln, around 1-2 hours from our home in Boston, and in the month preceding labour, Katherine seemed to enjoy sending me texts containing phrases like “baby’s coming!”. I would frantically call her, where she would explain that she simply meant “at some point”, so she was tidying the house in preparation. By my estimate, I had at least 4 heart attacks in January because of communication like this.

On Friday, my parents-in-law came up to help look after Joen. I have successfully not thrown milk at either of them, which is a significant improvement over last time! It was brilliant to have them around so Joen could get used to them before we disappeared to the hospital.

Before things got serious

Just like last time, we sailed past the due date (15th January), and ended up going into labour a few days before we were booked for induction. On Saturday at 4pm-ish, Katherine started to have her first sporadic contractions. By 7pm, they had become regular and painful.

12 hours later, there was very little progress. Lots of pain, but no progress.

At half 8, they were down to every 2 minutes, and rather intense. We rang the hospital, who advised us to come in. I was a little hesitant to do this, since last time she’d had similar symptoms for 10 hours+, but was only 3cm dilated when we made it in to hospital. However, deciding it was for the best, we threw everything into the car and scurried over to the labour ward.

As the tweet below shows, I was right not to be too keen:


From this point until 10:30am – about 12 hours later, there was very little progress. Lots of pain, but no progress. One midwife thought she was up to 4cm, but on re-examination 5 hours later, a different midwife felt that this couldn’t be the case.

They decided to break her waters at 11, which really kicked things off - she had 12 very painful contractions in the space of 30 minutes. She soon ran out of relief from the gas and air, and was given her first dose of morphine.

morphine & pizza

By 3, the morphine was wearing off, and Katherine decided she wanted an epidural. Unfortunately, the anaesthetists were busy in theatre, and I was going a little bit frantic in wanting to sort her pain. Given that I currently work in palliative care, where I am comfortable prescribing piles of opiates every day, it was so frustrating not being able to hurry up her analgesia.

They eventually gave her some more morphine at 5pm, just an hour and a half after I had suggested it, and she was finally able to settle down a little. The contractions had been going steadily for hours now, and she had dilated to 9.5cm!

It was at this point that a light of rage appeared in Katherine’s eyes.

Freshly washed and lovelyAt 5:50, 10cm was reached, and Katherine began to push. I will open myself up for criticism here and say that I don’t think was really pushing that hard at first. We hit an hour of pushing with no baby, and the Registrar doctor came in, and told us that she was going to have to use forceps as the pushing was going on for too long.

It was at this point that a light of rage appeared in Katherine’s eyes. Given a 15 minute reprieve, and spurred on by the midwife, “Come on Katherine, we don’t need forceps!”, Katherine began to push like a successful Sisyphus. After just 3 more contractions, there was a screaming head sticking out of my wife, and just one more later and our beautiful daughter was released into the world.

Latching on like a limpet mineAlthough disappointed not to use her shiny tongs, the doctor seemed happy enough getting to play with needles and thread, sorting out the second degree perineal tear, and even found time to quiz me on the theory of Obstetrics – I will be working under this registrar in April!

We were both fairly oblivious to this, since there was a disgusting, blood covered angel dripping on us, and looking into our eyes. Glorious!


CMF Conference: Day Three

The following is part of a series of posts about the CMF Junior Doctors Conference. Read Day One and Day Two.

Six hours sleep, and the clocks going back, brought us to our final day at the conference. Following a prayer meeting, discussions over breakfast involved a fairly detailed discussion of New Zealand humour, and a discovery of a fellow Black Sheep lover in Pete Saunders!

Seminar - A challenge to care: the Christian doctor as leader in the ever-changing NHS

Nick LandNick Land, the Medical Director for Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, ran this seminar on how we can manage change and take a positive lead in the NHS.

Some of the changes we face in the UK:

  • Change in PCTs -> CCOGs
  • Increased litigation
  • More complicated treatments
  • More IT
  • Budget cuts
  • Change in clinician/patient relationships
  • Ethical changes
  • Unhappy doctors

Some research has been done, showing that doctors now have slightly lower workload, much higher pay, yet are much more unhappy. The loss of autonomy, greater external scrutiny, working to guidelines all seem to affect clinician happiness.

What difference does our covenant relationship to God make to our practice as medical doctors?

There is a change in secular understanding of work:

  1. Classically, Greeks and Romans believed work was a curse.
  2. In the middle ages, there was a secular spiritual dichotomy – it was seen as more holy to be doing a spiritual job.
  3. In the Reformation, it was understood that all work can be done to the glory of God.
  4. In the Enlightenment, a humanist “God helps those who helps themselves” attitude.

Work was created by God in the beginning…

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

Why do doctors go into Leadership?

  • Change things
  • Ambition
  • To help
  • Power
  • Against their will
  • Money
  • Buggin’s Turn
  • Stop someone else doing it.

Why should Christians get involved with NHS leadership?

  • God’s calling
  • Esther + Mordecai
  • Ethical stance
  • Opportunity to protect the vulnerable – both staff and patients

Key points:

1. Management is a means of common grace

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Romans 13 

2. We are called to be salt and light in every area.

3. Nehemiah is a great example: he saw the need, heard the call, already had a good job, but took the risk. He dealt with injustice and gave leadership and direction to hopeless people.

4. Jeremiah is another.

“Work for the prosperity of the city where I have placed you”
Jeremiah 29:7

5. Moses father in law gives an example of the benefits of delegating tasks.

What are the dangers of being involved with NHS Leadership?

  1. Getting caught up in a powerful and at times ruthless culture.
  2. Dishonesty.
  3. Anger. Ephesians 4:26
  4. Letting Management or the Trust become an idol. Exodus 20:3-4
  5. Getting the work/home/worship balance wrong.
  6. Cynicism

How should the Christian approach Medical Management?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Phillipians 2:3-8 

Really putting the patient and other people first is a servant hearted process: its a radical change of view. Personal convenience, professional status and power have to be abandoned.

Bible Teaching – Faith at Work in our Attitudes

Frank Sinatra - I did it my wayAfter a final coffee/tea/squash blitz, and the discovery that Vicky Lavy bruised her hand during the slapping game last night (hardcore!), it was time for our last teaching session with Steve Burmester.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercyand good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

James 3:13-18

James talks about how our community shapes us. The TV series “UP” followed some 7 year olds, then reviewed them every 10 years. The children have grown into adults so very shaped by the social situation they were in at that tender age.

In his time as a pastor, Steve has seen many people growing up. But it is those who surround themselves with a like minded, gracious and loving community who grow and mature to match that setting. Our primary witness as Christians should be through the community we share together.

The guiding principle of Hell is “I am my own”.
CS Lewis

Steve takes a lot of funerals, mostly for non believers. About 5-10% of them choose to have the song “I did it my way” – an attitude that is counter to the servant hearted, subservient way of the Kingdom.

Saying “I am free to be myself, and owe nothing to anyone else” is the natural desire to please oneself. But Christian living is about the righteous rubbing together of lives. In the aftermath of the Welsh revival, pubs were empty, and prisons had to shut, because lives were changed. The end of revival is caused by spiritual pride.

Spiritual pride is knowing others faults better than your own. Its an air of disdain or contempt towards others.
Pride quickly leads you to separate from those you criticise, or who criticise you.
A proud person is dogmatic, and sure about every point of belief, and cannot distinguish between a major and minor point of belief, because everything is major. Pride loves to confront to win, or doesn’t confront at all because they can’t be bothered.
A proud person is often unhappy with themselves, or self pitying.
Timothy Keller

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
CS Lewis 

The opposite of pride is humility. As James 4:6 says - “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. In Numbers 12, we see two people acting out of pride, against Moses, who is humble.

James refers to us as “adulteresses”, referring to the image of the Church being the metaphorical bride of Christ. In being selfish and self centred, we violate our relationship with God. When Jesus, who acted only to remain close to God, God chose to cut him off, and its that sacrifice, the ultimate in giving oneself, we can access the grace.

There was a man in the First World War. he was wealthy, and an art collector. He had one son, who was drafted and sent to the front line. Sadly he was killed. Another man, who had been in the trenches with the son, came to visit the old man. He said, I’m no artist alike the painting you buy and sell, but I want to give you this picture which I drew, of your son. The old man was touched, and kept the picture.

When the old man died, they decided to auction all the art in the home. They got everyone together at an auction house. They announced that they had to sell the drawing of the man’s son. We cannot move on until we sell this piece. No one wanted to buy it. Eventually, hesitantly, one old man bought the painting for £10. The crowd breathed a sigh of relief, now they could move on with the auction.

The auctioneer closed his book. I am afraid that the will states, that whoever bought the painting of the son, gets all the fabulous masterpieces.

We must accept the Son, in order to receive all the riches of heaven. Do we have the humility to take up his yoke?


We closed with communion, reflecting on 1 Corinthians 11:

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement on himself.


And that was it. A final pile of food was shovelled in at lunch, and many sad goodbyes. Then, once I had finally accepted that Beth probably won the chocomilk drinking competition, Beth gave me a lift home.

It was a wonderful weekend, full of passionate, loving and exciting individuals, filled with a desire to help others, make the NHS awesome and share a crazy amount of love to the UK. Hopefully, it’ll encourage me to be more like them.

The following is part of a series of posts about the CMF Junior Doctors Conference. Read Day One and Day Two.

CMF Conference: Day Two

The following is part of a series of posts about the CMF Junior Doctors Conference. Read Day One and Day Three.

After a night spent weeing the remnants of my chocomilk binge last night, I got up in time for the 8am prayer meeting in the chapel. Still bleary eyed, I followed this with a painfully substantial breakfast, which, although lacking in vegetarian sausages, made up for it in sheer volume.

We also got to meet the CMF Junior Doctors Committee, and had Vicky Lavy nagging us once again to grab a wheelbarrow, and buy as many books as physically possible from the CMF bookstall.

Bible Teaching – Genuine Faith

Steve Burmester, about to preach

Nourishment over, we settled down to listen to Steve Burmester teaching on “Genuine Faith“. We was introduced with a question, due to his background in pharmaceuticals: “What is your favourite drug name?” The answer? “Raloxifene”. Doesn’t it roll off your tongue beautifully?

95 year olds were asked what 3 things they would change if they could live again. They said: 1. they would slow down and reflect on things more, 2. they would risk more, and, 3. they would do more that would live on after they died.

In James 4, he talks about the brief nature of life: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes“. The passage makes it clear that we shouldn’t boast and be proud of our own achievements: its pointless. If we feel that we can plan everything of our lives, we will be disappointed – look at the recession. As James says: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow“.

Just as the old people said in point 2: Risk. As one person said faith is spelt “R.I.S.K.”. It is the perseverence and steadfastness of going through trials that helps us to build our faith, that helps us to put our hope in God, rather than our own plans. As James 1 shows us, its not that we can’t plan, but we shouldn’t put all our hope and security in a future that we can’t predict. We shouldn’t think we can forsee and prevent all difficult times, but instead trust that the God who loves us will see us through the hard times.

How we deal with success and wealth is just as important as how we deal with hardships. Indeed, in the West, we need to learn this lesson more, since we have so much wealth, so many gifts: so many opportunities to bless others, or temptations to feel that “I have worked hard, I have earned this, this is all mine!”

Albert Einstein is travelling across America on a train. The ticket inspector comes, and asks for tickets. Einstein can’t find it anywhere, he is looking in all his pockets, in his coat, but simply cannot find it anywhere.

The ticket inspector says “It’s fine, Mr Einstein: you are a very famous person, I’m sure you bought a ticket!” She walked on, but on looking back, saw Einstein on his hands and knees looking under his chair for the ticket.

She returns, and says, “Mr Einstein, its fine, we know who you are, you don’t need to worry.

Einstein looked at her, and said “I thank you, but I too know who I am. But what I don’t know, is where I’m going…”

Our identity is important, and it is valuable to know who we are. But we shouldn’t be distracted by that into thinking we are in control of every tiny aspect of our lives.

Seminar – Miracles of healing: happening in Britain today?

Hard Questions about Health and HealingOur first seminar of the weekend, with Andrew Fergusson - is on whether we see healing in the UK. He is the author of “Hard Questions about Health and Healing“, and a former GP. He mentioned the excellent price that we can pick up the book for about 8 times – I suspect Vicky Lavy had a hand in this…

We went round the group of 20 of us, and it appears that almost every church has some form of regular prayer for healing in church each week, with many having organised healing ministries.

Andrew pointed out that this has changed. 20 years ago, far less churches practiced prayers and ministries for healing.

Margaret had a serious cancer, causing terrible pain in her leg. Medication wasn’t happening. A pastor laid hands on her and prayer, she felt something like “a jolt of electricity” in her leg, and then from that moment until she died a year later, she had no more pain in her leg ever again.

What is that? Is it a miracle? It didn’t cure her cancer, but at the same time, her severe pain stopped permanently.

The dictionary defines a miracle as these below. Is it 1, 2 or 3?

  1. An event contrary to the laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural causel
  2. Any amazing or wonderful event;
  3. A marvellous example of something “a miracle of engineering”.

We can look at some examples of healing, for example Luke 5:12-14; there are a number of apparent likenesses between most biblical miracles:

  • Obvious examples of gross physical disease.
  • At that time incurable and most remain so today
  • Physical means almost never used
  • Cures immediate
  • REstoration complete and therefore obvious
  • No recorded relapses
  • Regularly elicited faith
  • Verification without publicity.

There is an important element here: as doctors, and as Christians: truth matters. We should not leave our scientific, analytical minds at the door when we look at healing. Evidence matters.

Andrew feels he has never seen reliable evidence of a person having an amputee regrowing a limb, the blind seeing, the dead being raised to life. As he says, “By the dictionary definition, we haven’t seen valid evidence of a level one miracle“. He has seen many, many stories of difficult to explain solutions, and release of pain, or wonderful improvement in health.

As a last, very deep point: If we are going to have a theology of healing, we need a theology of suffering.

Bible Teaching – Faith at work in our actions

ParaglidingAfter an unendingly vast lunch, and a 2 hour walk, it was time to move on with the afternoon, and our next session with Steve Burmester, on the topic of faith at work. After only about 5 hours of sleep last night, and a fair amount of exercise, I was barely awake – a feeling familiar to me from the Developing Health course.

Many people, on deciding to go paragliding, get right to the edge of the cliff, before deciding they don’t want to go ahead.

James is looking for this doublemindedness in people. The desire to do something good, against the desire to behave badly.

In James 2:1-4, he says “For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

 A church invited a guest preacher. The day for the service arrived, and the congregation filed in. There was a tramp, sat at the back of the church, smelling of whiskey, and they sat far from him, leaving him two empty pews to himself.

It came to the point where they were looking around, wondering where the guest preacher was, when the tramp got up, walked to the front, and put on a dog collar, and preached from James 2.

If we treat people wrongly, we treat God wrongly: James 3:9 – “With [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God“. Another passage talking about our double minded behaviour.

Every human life is a reflection of divinity, and every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man.
Martin Luther King, Jr

Just treating someone with inequality, is that it is sin. And thus no better than any other sin.

Lance Armstrong was struck off recently for taking drugs, but the excuse that many cyclists used is that “everyone else was doing it”. Unfortunately “everyone else does it” is no excuse.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:12-13

  1. We all need mercy.
  2. We need to show mercy to others.
  3. This triumph is available to us all.

CMF Update

Pete Saunders started talking next to update us on the work of the Christian Medical Fellowship. We started with a video about CMF. Well, we would have done, but there was a technical glitch, so here it is below:

There are currently 4000 CMF doctors, and 800 CMF medical students. It is not a London office, but a national fellowship. They link with churches, hospitals and individuals.

STAT is “Short Term, Able to Travel” – who are people open to Teaching, Specialist service, Locum support, Emergency help in International work.


CMF are involved in about 100 conferences, including:

  • CMF Student conference
  • CMF Graduate conference
  • International Christian Medical Dental Association World Congress
  • Christian Nurses and Midwifes Student conference
  • Where is my Neighbour? conference.

Find out more at the CMF events page.


CMF works to protect those who lose their jobs for protecting moral values, those of concerns about Euthanasia, Abortion, and Faith at work.

Seminar – Time Management, Jesus Style

Richard Vincent was leading the seminar, my final study session of the day.

What are pressures on your time?

  • Family
  • Work
  • Commuting
  • Church
  • Socialising
How do we choose what to do?
  • No choice – things I need to do
  • Things I should do
  • Things I want to do
  • Prioritising between them is a varied process
  • How they make you feel

What can we learn from Jesus?

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Mark 1:35-37 

He guarded his quiet time. We all shared our experiences of the difficulties of setting aside time each day, but once interesting fact: we all really enjoy doing it, yet still find it really difficult to set down to it. It is a battle.

“At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him, and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Luke 4:42-43

He established priorities. We live unhelpfully busy lives. We also don’t find solitude enough, especially with the intrusion of smart phones and the internet.

“Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”.”
John 4:27 

He made time for individuals. It can be harder to take the initiative, rather than just see friends that opportunities naturally present each other.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16

He did not sin. Hopefully our understanding of grace is that that we can show it to others equally well.

“Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Luke 6:5 

He rested. We need to plan time off, and have a Sabbath attitude in each day, even when that isn’t possible.


After this, we spent the evening chatting, playing Cranium and “Table slap”, making awful medical and Christian jokes, and I finally went to bed at 2:30am, after a long discussion about how to improve the Malaysian health care system.

This is part of a series of posts about the CMF Junior Doctors Conference. Read Day One and Day Three.

CMF Conference: Day One

As you may remember, this summer I went to the 2 week Christian Medical Fellowship’s Developing Health course, and blogged fairly extensively about it (read all 11 posts here…)

I had so much fun that I thought I would attend the CMF Junior Doctors conference. Entitled “Faith at Work”, there are a range of seminars covering a wide range of topics, and some central teaching looking at the book of James. Plus hanging out with lots of similar minded junior doctors, and eating too much tasty food.

Yesterday was the first evening. After nearly 5 hours on the train, and 3 different connections (Boston is annoyingly out in the sticks!), we arrived at the delightful Hothorpe Hall near Market Harborough.

There wasn’t a huge amount of action on the first evening. Lots of chatting, some fantastic dinner, and a great introductory talk from Steve Burmester, our speaker for the weekend, on the Book of James.

He mainly focused on the disease of having a divided heart. Breaking it down medically, he showed us the symptoms of a divided heart: anger, a loose tongue, etc. The treatment is not to try harder, to continually berate ourselves, but to allow more of God’s grace to flourish in us.

The evening was rounded off with myself and my friend Beth had a drinking competition. Of Chocomilk. After 6.75 cups each (don’t ask about the arguments that led to that exact measurement) and a tie-breaking run round the entire building at half past midnight, it was time to go to bed.

See you all tomorrow!

This is part of a series of posts about the CMF Junior Doctors Conference. Read Day Two and Day Three.

One month in Boston

Last month, we took a big step as a family. We moved from our familiar, friendly home in Yorkshire over to the barren flatlands of Eastern Lincolnshire. In doing so, we said goodbye to 8 years of friends, and hello to convenient beaches, widespread obesity, and owning another house that needs every single room done up before we will be able to relax!

I’ll take you through some of our key moments with some photos:

This is our new home: Orchard Cottage, on Woodthorpe Avenue. It’s on the slightly nicer side of town, but needs quite a lot of work! The garden hasn’t been touched for about 2 years, so we are having rather a lot of pruning done at the end of the month, and some building work after that…

Joen has settled into things well, and both he and the dogs are loving the big new garden. As you can see, there are cat flaps everywhere, coupled with awful red carpet in the kitchen, and mammoth spiders in every room. Katherine hates all 3 of these things, especially the eight legged monsters.

One of the key aspects of our corner of Lincolnshire is that it is as flat as a pancake (In fact, if you read this study, its likely that its considerably flatter, since it would appear that pancakes are not terribly flat). The downside: its a bit boring. The plus side: we can cycle everywhere. Joen has decided to live on the edge though, since he has now worked out how to remove a cycle helmet, rendering it useless.

Alongside the uninteresting terrain, there is considerably more sky visible, so sunsets and dawns are rather beautiful to behold. Sadly, the road I take to work each morning is almost due East for large sections, meaning I can barely see beyond the brain melting glow of the sun. The unending flatness means that a 44 mile round trip is just about doable on bike, although I’m not achieving it every day.

I have begun my GP training, which involves hundreds of hours spent reflecting, signing sick notes and prescribing amoxicillin. Here you can see my office, with a photo of the family, and a coffee mug, recently filled on my most extravagant new purchase, a DeLonghi EC 152 Coffee Machine.

As mentioned above, we have several fantastic beaches, 20 miles or so down the road; and we have made the most of them already. Here you can see Joen swimming, playing and eating the sand on the beach at Chapel St Leonards.

Finally, the most important photo is that of our new child, around 50% ready now. Probably a she (the ultrasonagrapher wasn’t completely sure), we look forward to her arrival in January!

Thanks to everyone for your prayers, support and hot meals over the last month, especially Eagle, Sadie, Daniel, Tammie, Hannah, Helen, Micky & Rachel, and thanks for the unpaid manual labour of Nick & Jon!