4000 nurses together, what an experience!

The Royal College ofNurses democracy in action – points of order, voting members and non-voting members,  electronic voting handsets which I didn’t know I needed…
Trouble with technology the radio waves interfering with the wifi so there was trouble with the electronic voting handsets 🙊

I discovered that my cognitive function is significantly impaired by 1/2 glass of wine 📉 when I’ve been nil by mouth after about 6hrs travelling and bag stuffing. The wine was free but I didn’t want any career defining moments whilst tipsy in the exhibition hall. 🍌

Freebies in the exhibition hall have to be of nominal value as nurses can’t be trusted not to be swayed by a free fob watch, stethoscope etc. so I have a collection of mainly pens… I like a nice pen ✒️

Fun and collaborative interdisciplinary working, stuffing bags in my yellow “here to help” t-shirt (Minion style – note to self must watch a film and check out these minions! Is it a rumour that they eat bananas and kill their master??)

My full day at the conference was packed:

  • 8:15 minion duty ⏰
  • first conference debate
  • more minion duty
  • lunchtime fringe talk on getting students into general practice nursing
  • after lunch morphing into adult nursing student, now dressed in psychedelic pink (bit like a clanger). Great sessions for students:
  • 1) on the importance of self-care and
  • 2) a whistle stop tour of wound care with a tissue viability nurse
  • Free ice cream! 🍦 Yes! Perks of being a student…
  • Mindfulness in the quiet room ⌛️putting self-care into practice.
  • Session on death and dying in an acute hospital setting – asking can we do more for patients and those close to them. Encouraging us to do things differently to meet the needs of the family and in so doing do it better. I can usually hold the tears back but so moving, inspiring and better in its own post.
  • After that I wasn’t up for the regional reception, more wine on an empty stomach, so I walked back up the Eastcliff and 👣💤

Meeting new people – on the train, in the conference hall, on the stands, handing out conference bags, lovely RCN staff and hotel staff at the Marriott 💡

Bournemouth was beautiful. For my last day (no minion duty), lie in, leisurely breakfast and walking to the conference centre next to the beach. Awesome way to start the day with a little mindfulness of seeing.

My hotel was chosen on price not its aesthetics. In need of some TLC but I had a 🛁 my room had tea making, chairs, space, 3G and a plug socket for my charger – snail heaven 🛀🏻

Today I peaked, I sat next to this lady in the most amazing shoes 👠 and helped her open her tin of mints, it turns out she is the UK’s Chief Nursing Officer – wow!

Tweeting 📱

Had to leave the debate on should we change nursing education which is producing 4 distinct learning streams. For adult nursing we need a broader base for us to deliver safe effective healthcare. Next time I’m hoping to contribute to the debate… 📰 🏁




An object with special meaning for me

The pen

My object from home is one of my free hotel pens designed to advertise a local four star hotel as a conference venue.  It represents a new stage in my life and the start of the path to a new career. I had recently been made redundant after more than 20 years as a scientist, home life was pretty tumultuous and I trained as a volunteer lay tutor working with people with long-term health conditions and then specifically people living with depression. That was such a great course offering people a safe space to learn more about depression, to learn from each other and to regain control over their lives.

It also represents my slight obsession with stationery. I wouldn’t admit to hoarding stationery exactly (and I have less than my husband) but there will be plenty to leave to the children.

I like the see through mechanism and the neon orange. I don’t usually like orange but I like this.

It is something to fiddle with, it’s tactile and reassuring.

The line it produces is a permanent fine black line, compared with the easily changed writing with a pencil. At school graduating from a pencil to a pen was a landmark in the development of your handwriting.

My kids think I grew up with slate and chalk, apologies to anyone who did, but I am the “pen and paper” generation. Even my University project was hand written and subsequently typed by a typist and this was how we produced reports for several years after I started work. Even this piece of text is produced from my handwritten notes and only then so I can blog it. It also reminds me of how much I enjoy learning and as I get older how I need to write things down to remember them.

A more recent use of my pen has been when working as an auxiliary. As an auxiliary you are pretty much sunk without a black pen and I would always take one to work to make sure I could recognise it if I was forced to lend it out – if you lend your pen to a patient with the best will in the world you might not get it back and never lend your pen to a doctor, you’ll never get it back.

I can hear you wondering “How many of these pens do you have?” A few :D, the day when I’m down to my last one I might just have to keep it to look at.

A contrasting object chosen from the museum collection, a gravestone sculpture

Gravestone sculpture

 This came from St. Lawrence church in Exeter and dates from 1600-1700.

  Instantly recognizable, the skull is the work of a skilled craftsman, an expression of his creativity. Watching over the dead, the stone has weathered and blended into its environment. The empty eye sockets draw us in, contrasting the impermanence of our lives with this rough stone.

The interpretation reads “During a troubled period [the skull and winged cherub] reminded people of their mortality and hopeful flight to heaven.”

My response to my pen

I’m imagining my orange pen is my boat, sailing on an ocean of ink. The contrast between the man-made neon hull and the changing colours of the sea and sky. The ocean stretches out ahead, in which if I let them, thoughts like waves ebb and flow. The waves break against the sleek smooth exterior of that boat, I can observe them through the transparent walls but I steer my own course. In any moment there is always the potential for creativity to arise and be caught in the net of my attention.



  • Both have a distinct historical context, objects popular in their own time period
  • Say something about impermanence – the skull reminds us that this is what we come to when our life runs out and the pen is not refillable and therefore to be disposed of when the ink runs out.
  • Democratic – we all have a skull inside us. The pen is in theory accessible to all of us having been mass produced cheaply to be distributed to promote the hotel.
  •  Drawn to both
  • Tactile
  • Instantly recognisable
  • Potential revealed by the light
  • Created

Gravestone sculptureSomething of mine


  • Old New
  • Decorative Functional
  • Natural materials Man-made materials
  • Solid Transparent
  • Natural colour to blend with environment Neon to stand out and catch our attention
  • Ugly Beautiful
  • Unique Mass produced
  • Fixed Portable
  • Valuable Negligible value
  • Marks an ending Represents potential to create
  • Crafted Mass produced
  • The sculpture is an expression of someone’s vision. The pen is an object which allows for creative expression.
  • In 2015 we recognise both the sculpture and the pen but in the 17th century the pen did not exist and would have been unrecognisable.

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Exploring collections and identities at the museum

The objects on display include the aesthetically beautiful, the curious, the unusual and the inexplicable.
While I was at the museum I also wondered why we [that is museums] collect things and looking around these were the ideas I came up with:

  • To capture something that we fear could be lost, especially items that represent our personal history
  • As a reminder to connect us back to a person or place
  • To understand the breadth of what is in the world to “pin it down”


    Exploring collections and identities at the museum

    How do museum collections relate to how we identify ourselves?

    I’ve never thought about this before, here are my first thoughts:

    • It gives us a sense that we have a historical and geographical context.
    • We can see examples of how others have expressed themselves e.g. Through painting & sculpture 
    • What we are drawn to and how we respondtells us something about ourselves – I am drawn to the intricate and I’m one of those people who likes to read the labels, I want to understand & know why.

    I should add that a museum curator was one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up!

    Our historical context

    Our geographical context


    The quirky


    The intricate


    The spiritual