Sunday, 25 April 2010

Firing up the Pendolino, Eating out, and the Return of Colleagues.

Giles Coren (food critic), this week spent the best part of £400 on what he described as a mediocre meal at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants in London. I guess the meal may have cost £400 but it is unlikely to have been his money.His review of his experience was scathing and made for riveting reading. I could identify with the poor overall experience of the senses he wrote so eloquently about. Indeed, in the last ten days I have yet again endured some rather strange meals.

Two such offerings came from the University. Regular readers of this blog will know that for a variety of reasons, I no longer eat the food provided by our catering department for lunch time or evening meetings. However, even I was surprised at the lunchtime selection available at a meeting last Friday. It seemed to comprise of various dead animals (cooked) encompassed in a strangely pink wrap, which had the look and texture (I am reliably informed) of a face towel that has seen better days. Things are set to change as we take our Health and Well Being University Theme forward. Hopefully, we will start to have a more healthier range of food available to students and staff.

However, I did enjoy a very good meal with my Head of School colleagues this week. The meal was had at Beluga in Manchester, cost £20 each including as much wine as you could drink! Good selection for vegetarians, but the night we went, the Pizza oven was not working. They also had a wonderful pavement seating area which was ideal for people watching and pre meal conversation.

The other thing food wise, that threw me this week was that some how I had failed to miss that April was Enchilada Month. On Tuesday, I had fired up the Virgin Pendolino, and headed off to London for a series of meetings, one of which, was held over lunch. It was in a famous Mexican restaurant, which whilst normally having a great choice and range of food, on this occasion didn’t. We were expected to pick our food from the totally enchilada based menu. Up to this point in my life, I hadn’t realised that enchiladas had such versatility. It was an interesting lunch, although I didn’t get to eat much.

Equally interesting on that day was that having parked the Pendolino at platform 13, I walked out into the sunshine and bustle of Euston Square to be greeted by a hugely enthusiastic lady, who as is her way, was sporting Sophie Lauren type sunglasses. As usual we hugged each other, air kissed, and promised to catch up sometime soon. This lady was once, a very good staff nurse on a mental health unit I had responsibility for. Today she is an excellent Nurse Consultant for a much bigger range of services that now includes that Unit. We have enjoyed such fleeting glimpses and meetings all over the world.

I was once standing on the Staten Island Ferry waiting to go across when a women approached me, said hello, air kissed and promised to catch up soon. It was her. Four years later, we met in similar circumstances at a Leonard Cohen concert in Birmingham. We have met to do business many times in-between of course. I still find it slightly strange to have had such brief encounters all over the world. Perhaps it is a reflection of the international nature of the community of practitioners that is nursing.

And talking about the world over, the very good news this week is that some of our colleagues at long last able to begin to make their way back to the UK. The last week or so have been a trial for many. It says something that so many colleagues helped each other out in such generous ways. This also included colleagues from other Universities who were stranded in the same place. Back home, colleagues have also unconditionally and very willingly stepped into the breach and taken on extra teaching, attended meetings and been there for the students. It appears that slowly things are getting back to normal. I even had an email form a colleague in Finland that advertised a forthcoming conference by declaring that volcanoes only erupt once in a while, a that Finland is a great place to get stuck in.
Finally, the weekend Times published what surely must be the most surprising supplement they have done for a while. It was entitled the Male Vanity Supplement and was full of tips on how to reclaim that six pack, apply your make up, and yes how to eat well. So maybe a male vanity supplement is not such an oxymoronic idea after all.