I’m not a geek, ok! Of course I have a professional interest in evidence based medicine, nursing and psychology but I am NOT a geek.

Why am I starting today’s blog with this assertion? Well because it has been the NI Science Festival since 15th Feb (ongoing to next weekend) and it has been utterly fascinating – yet when I speak to others about this often free-to-view event and it’s numerous angles and insights into our world, I am often met with resistance. ‘Science is not my thing’ they say, ‘It’s for geeks’. WRONG!!! 

I’ve been party to so much wonder, so many questions, some answers, great positivity and call-to-action. I feel energised and excited. And like many people who find excitement in a new discovery..I want to evangelically shout it from the rooftops. IF NOTHING ELSE, IT’S BETTER THAN THE TELLY!!!

My first toe in the water was to watch ‘The Science of Swimming the English Channel’. I was up for this particularly because (as I mentioned before) I have a friend who has signed up to do just that. She has a young son and this event is family inclusive. It was great! A young female scientist also signed up a few years ago and presents on all kinds of things related to her swim…from the science of swimming costumes (who knew!, wave physics, buoyancy, and what and how to eat, as well as good to know stuff when you are ‘out there’, like biology-defying jellyfish and what about sharks? An excellent hour spent. If you are thinking about signing up for your own cross channel swim, it’s a must!

My next session was to listen in to a sex education panel discussion which was excellent! It was billed as..

‘No awkward classroom, just a candid conversation with a group of professionals. It is important to be able to open up about sex, for safety, for health and for mental well-being but within a school environment this can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. So we’ve decided to to gather a group of experts including author of A Curious History of Sex, Dr Kate Lister, Elaine Miller (AKA Gusset Grippers), a physiotherapist with a hobby of stand up comedy and The Rainbow Projects’s Sexual Health Development Officer, Leo Lardie, to chat about all things Sex Education. Through a fun, conversational style discussion we want to dispel myths, give advice and create a safe environment to discuss and learn about safe and comfortable sex.’ And that is exactly what we got with reference to the NI context but releveance to any young (and not so young) person discovering the joy of sex. You can still watch it on youtube and this is the link – https://youtu.be/Qkbskzg7wzs

My next recommendation is to view ‘Somebody that I used to know’. The blurb said ‘Brave, inspiring and beautifully crafted, Wendy Mitchell’s memoir, Somebody I Used to Know was the first book of its kind written by someone living with dementia. In this much anticipated conversation, Belfast-based novelist Jan Carson will chat to Wendy about her experience living with and writing about dementia, alongside author Anna Wharton who helped co-author Wendy’s memoir and has recently published her own debut novel, The Imposter in which she further explores the theme of dementia. Queen’s University Belfast based linguist, Dr Jane Lugea will also be joining the conversation to talk about her AHRC-funded research project exploring how writers represent dementia in their fiction’. 

IT WAS EXCELLENT. I came away from this session uplifted and inspired by all that was shared and have reflected on it frequently over the last few days. I even bought the book!

Anyway, rather than give you a full run down, you have time to go and discover for yourselves. The link you need is this one – https://nisciencefestival.com/events and I encourage you to explore everything including the events for schools!

Actually, when I look back, I’ve been mad busy this month. I don’t know how I even found the time to be involved in the festival now I think about it! But I feel GREAT! 

I expect that is partly due to Pip Middleton at The Giddy Gut (https://thegiddygutnutritionist.com/) with whom I have been doing some work on my nutrition to get my body ‘menopause fit’, invest in strong bones and make sure that all of my systems are good for a long life. I’m (hopefully) going to be 55 next week and it feels like a good time to invest in myself. Some diet modification and a new way of thinking by ditching calorie counting and looking at healthy intake rather than limited intake has been a bit of a challenge at times, but I am feeling the difference. Exercise is essential and I want to be good for high level trekking and long distance cycling for another 20 years at least! So – much as it has been a challenge for me to give up a 40 year habit of calorie vigilance, I’d advise you sack the ‘diets’ and think again. IN fact, guess what? There is a session all about it at the festival!

My client work has been going well too – I have a number of other projects ongoing, all secret I’m afraid, and there are a few tentative enquiries about conference speaking which I love and cannot wait to get back to once the world opens up again. As much as Zoom is marvellous, it will be fabulous to be in the same room as lots of others sharing a healthcare passion and the energy and drive to improve services for patients.

On that note, I wonder if there is any particular topic that you would like me to look at in the coming weeks? I have a list already but am always happy to investigate others…. my pressing item is a request for something on Parkinson’s disease, which I will be working on next. If you have anything to suggest, drop me a line!

Talk soon!