17 of 2017


A year ago today, we merrily toasted the back of 2016. It’d been a unforgettable year of new places, new experiences and new friends, but outside our idyllic BVI bubble, the world seemed at unrest and politics had let us down. “2017 will be awesome” we said. And how very very right we were.


When life gets turned upside down faster than a 58′ catamaran in a Cat 5, it’s easy to forget that the first eight months of 2017 were some of the best of my life. So starting the new year as I mean to go on, here are 17 moments of 2017 that I never want to forget.
Warning: long post. You might want to grab a snack or just skip to the photos


  1. The time we SUP’ed 14 miles and didn’t die.


The finish line of the Painkiller Cup on White Bay, Jost Van Dyke

It seemed like such a good idea that friday night, signing up for the Painkiller Cup – a 14 mile Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) relay race through the Caribbean Sea.

The goal? Why the legendary Soggy Dollar bar on Jost Van Dyke for the best-earned ‘Painkiller’ cocktail of your life of course. Not to mention a share of the $10k prize money!

But that was then, and now, somehow, you’re standing on the bow of a catamaran, as 15 or so of your friends excitedly gear up for a day of singing, cheering and dancing. The start klaxon sounds… and you watch your strongest team member get overtaken by every last one of the 20 or so other teams of (mostly professional or sponsored) paddle boarders.

The race isn’t called the Painkiller Cup for no good reason. 14 miles on a paddleboard in around 3-4h is no easy feat, especially as the rules state you must switch paddler every 25minutes and share one paddle-board between all 3 members of your relay team! The swell and chop of the open sea tests your core strength to the max and at each rotation you’re desperately trying not to lose too much time (or the paddle!) as your teammate pulls up beside you, and you’re unceremoniously hauled into the dinghy so they can take their turn.

Of course the hero’s welcome from your support crew each time you return to the boat increases in volume with every bottle popped, and the noise and fervour as you arrive at the finish on White Bay is almost overwhelming. Somehow, Mick, Jadid and I completed what many teams didn’t and didn’t even come last!

The restorative powers of the Painkiller  (a potent mix of pineapple, orange, rum, coconut milk and nutmeg) are able to fix even the wobbliest of legs and celebrating by dancing to SOCA music on the beach until the small hours is mandatory.

2. The time I woke up on the morning of my 30th birthday with (still unexplained) chemical burns on my face. 

In 2017 I turned 21 (for the 9th time).


For anyone that knows me well, it will come as absolutely no surprise that outside of work, ‘organisation’ is not my strongest suit (…indeed, in 2017 I somehow managed to throw a BBQ-less beach BBQ!). So partly because they’re lovely, and largely because they wanted an excuse to party and knew I’d never get around to never organising anything myself, George, Claudia and Becs assumed the task and banned me from all involvement!

Now there are many things made easier by living in a place where everyone knows everyone else, but secret party planning, it seems, is not one of them.  February arrived and ‘accidental’ slip-ups and cryptic clue-dropping became something of a sport, but one thing I was very sad to find out, was that two of my favourite humans, Gretchen and Natalie couldn’t make it. Hrumph.

You can imagine my surprise then, a week before my birthday, when my inbox pings with a curious email containing some simple instructions:

Two days later and after a hilariously unconvincing mystery tour of Tortola (and a worrying amount of collusion from the Beef Island airport staff to keep our destination secret from me till I was sitting on the plane!), I am somehow clearing US Customs in Puerto Rico, dressed in a thoroughly inappropriate novelty shirt and being scowled at by a family with five young children.

After a weekend of shopping, Vietnamese cafe foot massages, bourbon bars, rose ceremonies, too many free shots, midnight Accordion-hunting on the streets of old San Juan and the hangover to end all hangovers, Natalie Gretchen and I flew back in a private plane and I even managed not to be ill on the pilot. Success.

The following week my actual birthday approaches and it’s hard to see how the previous weekend could possibly be topped! Friday afternoon I’m treated to a slew of preemptive birthday wishes and promises to catch up in the following week – and as many of these are from people I’d hoped would be coming to celebrate with me, I am expecting a small affair.

Saturday morning, and as I’m lead down the dock at The Moorings I discover that I can no longer trust a word any of them say as 16 people jump out of two gorgeous catamarans! By 11am we’re sailing for the North Sound with a Mimosa in one hand and a homemade sourdough bacon sarnie (supplied by Becs of course) in the other. Needless to say we spent an unforgettable weekend sailing and sleeping aboard two beautiful boats, jumping into crystal blue waters, dancing, laughing, lunching with Oil Nut Bay to ourselves (complete with surprise pressies arranged by my girls back in the UK!),  inventing the ‘Markarita’, more dancing, and dining at Saba Rock, all finished off drinking Champagne under a blanket of stars.

The weekend was an unbridled success. Well, except those times we unsuccessfully tried to stay afloat giant inflatable toucans and ended up drifting through the North Sound; unsuccessfully tried to operate and moor the Dinghy (more drifting in the North Sound); unsuccessfully attempted to use said Dinghy to procure cigars from Bitter End Yacht Club at 1am. Unsuccessfully recreated ‘Chandelier’ (a la Sia) in the rigging. And of course the inexplicable chemical burns I managed to end up with either side of my nose.

3. The time I discovered that I can hula hoop. Then immediately discovered that Simon can do it better.

In March 2016, a bright new star joined the night sky as Ellie Perkins, one of the most beautiful, funny, kind-spirited one year olds I’ve ever known, was taken from us far too soon. In honour of his daughter, Ellie’s equally amazing Dad established a Not-For-Profit called Ellie’s Wish BVI, dedicated to purchasing new equipment for the paediatric department of Peebles Hospital, Tortola. With a lot of hard work we managed to turn one of the saddest events of 2016 into one of the happiest of 2017, with the inaugural Ellie’s Wish fundraiser event – The Flamingo Regatta.

The idea is simple – take a stunning white sand Caribbean beach, add 60 odd bonkers participants racing giant inflatable flamingos, a DJ and live guitarist and a huge crowd of screaming supporters. Even an unexpected swell and rainstorm couldn’t break our spirits (sadly the same cannot be said for my GoPro!) and the event was a huge success raising $18500!

The Weston household took home prizes for ‘1st Place Solo Jockey’, and ‘Biggest Wipeout’ (for an encounter with a particularly vicious wave which robbed one of us of all their clothes and left them desperately hiding their modesty from the video drone) – I will leave you to decide which of us won what.

The afterparty at Paradise beach bar was well deserved and equally spectacular. Our house full of impromptu sleepover guests were surprised to discover the 9 small puppies residing in my downstairs bathroom.

At around 3am I discovered a talent that I never knew I had… sadly my pride was short-lived when I was immediately upstaged by the hypnotic hips of Simon Hall. Oh well, you win some you lose some.


4. The time I forgot my kit and had to compete in a Tag Team Surf Competition in indecently small bikini bottoms.

Apart from the sunshine and sea, one of my favourite things about the BVI is the community spirit and the huge amount of charity work we all do – so imagine an event that combines all of these things and you can sure i’ll be there!

The corporate Tag Team Surf Competition is an annual event. The format – teams of 3 surfers (at least one female – yay surf girls!) take 3 waves each in 10 minutes and try for as many points as possible. As one of a limited number of girlie surfers, we are in high demand as ringers (regardless how novice we are!) and end up competing for random law or accountancy firms!

It’s a brilliant day where law firm big-wigs get to embarrass themselves in the waves in front of their staff and everyone else gets sunburnt – but it’s a corporate event nonetheless so a certain amount of decorum is required (especially when you’re surfing with your husband’s boss!).

You can imagine my horror therefore, when I get handed my team rash vest and realise that I’ve forgotten to bring my surf tights… and not only that, but I’m wearing the smallest bikini bottoms. ever.


Who knew you got manatees in the BVI?!- I’ll leave the zooming up to you

I mean small. And to make matters worse – there is a professional photographer. And one of my teammates is a 9yr old child. Awkward.

5. Cat, Lauren and Hannah’s Weddings

What’s better than a good wedding? THREE great weddings! Friends, dancing, free food, an excuse to buy new shoes and brush my hair – What’s not to love?!

In April I flew back to a sunny Suffolk (and luckily still fit into my Maid of Honour dress – bonus) to join my wonderful Cat and her new hubby Alexis riding the miniature railway into their future!

We rode in a classic VW bus, learned the Charleston, conga’d with a brass band to Rage Against The Machine and I definitely didn’t laugh so hard during the speeches that I threw red wine all over my cream dress.


These seats are reserved for the Maids of Honour… #Knowyourplacegrandma

In August it was Lauren and Guy’s turn to tie the knot. 20 or so of us beach bum BVIslanders jetted to France and danced until my shoes literally broke in a breathtaking Chateau perfectly decorated with little pieces of home. We made the most of our trip by taking the opportunity for some family time with the Westons and some world-class tasting menu action (accompanied by yet more highly inappropriate dinner conversation). If all that wasn’t enough to thank Lauren and Guy for, this holiday is the reason we were away from the BVI when Hurricane Irma hit – Not the ideal start to their honeymoon, but it certainly something to be grateful for!


To finish the year in style, one of the silver-linings of my refugeedom was being able to join my fellow RVC Rotation Group survivor Hannah at her wedding to the contagiously enthusiastic Adam. It was a beautiful day with a wintry Whissendine backdrop and a great excuse to catch up with old friends. I managed to hold it together when Hannah’s dad tried to make me cry with his lovely words, and even when I found a wig that makes me look concerningly like my mother. 

6. The time I fell off a racehorse in front of an audience

I have a confession to make. Brace yourself. It’s a big one.

I. Don’t. Do. Horses.


Even though I am verging on obsessed with all animals, I’ve just never understood horses. They’re big, gangly, dangerous, usually uncooperative to work with, and physiologically nonsensical with tendons that like to snap and intestines that like to twist up on themselves. Up until this year, I had ridden more camels than I had horses.

That was until I found myself working with Alison; whose passion for her animals is infectious and who made it her mission to get me enjoying (instead of just stitching up!) her happy herd of misfit and rescue equines.

In early 2017,  Alison and her husband Colin began planning for the 2017 ‘Countryside Adventures’ Highland Spring Horse and Pony Show – a fun, community-focused celebration of the farm, the horses (and many other animals!) and all the educational work they do. Plus even better, a fundraiser to help them continue!

Around the same time, the ‘funny farm’ gained a few new members. One of whom was ‘Bittersweet Dream’, a stunning dark bay thoroughbred mare, fresh off the the Thomas Ellis Downs Racetrack. She was beautiful, she was young and fast, and she was a complete unknown. And that was it – I had my challenge.

It will come as no surprise to people that know me, that I don’t often follow the ‘usual’ rules, so once I had Sweetie in my sights, starting slow and steady was unlikely to happen. With a LOT of care and dedication from Alison, Sweetie and I began teaching each other.

The first time I rode her, I felt like I had a bomb beneath me. She radiates power and I was acutely aware that the ground was a lot further away than with any other horse I’d ridden. But she was a complete gem, and we both held our composure. I was buzzing. And I was hooked.

In the weeks leading up to the show, Bittersweet Dream and I worked hard getting to know each other and trying out the course for the show’s ‘Cowboy Up’ challenge course.

The day of the show arrived and we got up early to groom and tack up the herd. Sweetie’s old race trainer came to tack her up in full racing kit, and then as the final straw, the PA system was turned on and it was like someone had flicked a switch in her brain – It was race day! Uh-Oh!


Chippy the ‘Zebra’

The farm was buzzing with people from all corners of BVI. Kids enjoyed petting and learning about the animals. We donned cowboy boots and checked shirts to serve Kentucky Derby style Mint Juleps, fresh coconuts and a hog roast. The children’s events were a real delight and the show was well and truly stolen by a pint-sized Appaloosa painted as a zebra flying around the course with reckless abandon. The judges (my boss Dr Laura, and a couple of my best clients) watched carefully from their ringside tent.  Then it was our turn, so with a little trepidation, I hopped on Sweetie and we proceeded to the ring.

The bell rang, and we were off, a nice fast (for me!) trot around the course.  But as we set off I realised I had a completely different animal between my legs than the girl I knew – twitchy, on edge and itching to run. With me doing my best to radiate calming vibes, we carried on – we did the flags, we did the slalom and we did the box – and we did it without fault. Until…entering the final lap of the course, we change reigns and head for the finishing gate – and that was it – the breaks came off. Flying twice around the ring as fast as I’ve ever been, we veer into the centre, headed straight at a large wooden cart. I drag her around it but by now I’m unbalanced and slipping. I hang onto her neck for dear life, hurtling around the ring, before unceremoniously plopping to the ground right in front of the judges.

I look up, to find Sweetie standing perfectly still right next to me, looking down at me as if to say ‘Owh it was just getting fun!’

7. The times we got all dressed up.

Most people in Tortola are fairly used to me rocking up to wine tastings or restaurants still in my work scrubs (often complete with questionable stains!). Those times I’m lucky enough to have an evening or weekend not interrupted by work, I can usually be found in swimwear or shorts, getting tossed around on a surfboard or enjoying a sundowner or two. One of the things I love most about the BVI is the laid-back rough and ready attitude, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good excuse to get dressed up when we see one!

The Moet Navanchor White Party at Coco Maya

In 2017 we enjoyed no less than two ‘White Parties’ – one hosted by Richard Branson on Mosquito Island and the other by Navanchor sponsored by Moet et Chandon ‘Ice’. We had a Tiki Luau boat party complete with hula-hooping, grass skirts and I finally got an excuse to bring my power drill for rum coconuts! We put our glad rags over our bikinis and headed to the Rock Cafe to scream Abba and Disney songs at people while they tried to eat their dinner for Lauren’s pink hen party! We took our joke about Dan’s numerous doppelgängers to another level for his surprise birthday dinner. We put on our dresses and pretended not to be scruffy island-bums for an cocktail evening with the officers aboard RFA Mounts Bay. We dressed as schoolgirls, covered ourselves in glitter and sang every word of Backstreet’s Back for Davinia’s birthday. We chartered a couple of planes to Anegada and spent Caro’s last BVI weekend pushing a broken-down taxibus through sand dunes in heels (#isitingearthough?)


Dan’s Doppleganger surprise birthday dinner worked out even better than I had planned!


Accidental colour coordination for Lauren’s birthday


Coco Maya hen do perfection!


Tiki Luau boat party – who gave me an excuse to bring a power drill on a boat?


More hen-doing done right!


Anegada girls

8. The times I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.

Not many people can say they love their work. But I can.


Sometimes I like to do impressions of my patients…

Sure its hard, and its messy, and unpredictable, and sometimes it makes me cry. But for every time I’m crying because of a difficult case, there are ten when I’m crying with laughter. When we trialled ‘Toxoban’ facial hair. When the equipment failed at exactly the wrong moment and I sprayed my nurse in the face with a dog’s abdominal fluid. When the dog I was about to spay turned out to be a hermaphrodite. When I got pecked in the eye by a chicken. When we had to perform seminal collection on an enormous Bull Mastiff for the third time that week.


When an unaccompanied cardboard box gets delivered to the practice in a taxi and you open it to find a cat… and an inexplicable breakfast waffle.


When I gelded a donkey on Guana Island… with an audience of chickens trying to assist as my surgical nurses.


When this dog that managed to impale itself with a spear… turned out to be called Zulu


When I pinned and wired my first broken leg on this gorgeous abandoned pup, then got to watch him grow up in his new family with one of my loveliest clients.


When this dog in the Humane Society was SO excited to have its inventory photo taken.


When my campaign for improved animal welfare and poisoning awareness gained momentum and everyone I saw for weeks would come and spur me on and offer support

When my efforts to provide animal aid after Hurricane Irma were so hugely appreciated that it made it all worthwhile


When I got to answer the incredibly complex questions of 60+ 4 year olds such as… “How do you remove a broken tooth from a squirrel”

9. The time we went to St Barths
With its pristine roads, haute cuisine and celebrity culture, St Barthelemy is in many ways, the antithesis of the BVI. You’ll have to take out a mortgage to eat out, but in early June, when the high season is over and the likes of Roman Abramovich and Bill Gates leave, this little slice of heaven becomes the perfect getaway and an ideal anniversary treat. We had a magical weekend, and to top it off, I got the best present of all when Cat FaceTimed to tell me she was pregnant!

10. The time we got spray on abs and jumped on beds at 4am.

Last year, Clauds celebrated her big ‘Four-O’ with a fantastic 80’s beach party in Virgin Gorda. Not one for letting number 41 slip by unnoticed, this year, 18 or so of us headed to St John in the USVI for a weekend in a couple of villas at the The Westin.

Like so many of the best moments, what followed was one of the most unscripted, spontaneously hilarious weekends of my life. At 3pm we had abandoned all ideas of a hike in favour of our villa’s private pool. At 9pm we had eaten our weight in Italian food and made so much inappropriate dinner conversation that even the waiters serving other areas of the restaurant were joking with us as we left. At 11pm we sang tune-less taxi-bus renditions of the Backstreet Boys. At 1am we found ourselves whining in child-sized rubber rings in the jacuzzi. At 2am Nick discovered my Bloodhound Gang prowess. At 4am we jumped on the beds to the Stereophonics until we couldn’t breath.

The next day, we returned home and I received more than one, non-sarcastic message from (clearly longsighted) friends complimenting my amazing abs – which I then had to fess up had been had been applied with a spray gun next to the pool.
11. The time we watched Fister beat Bummer


When you work on-call 7 days a week, the occasional weekend away is a sacred opportunity to recharge. After the busiest (and most complicated!) July on record and working 26 days straight, BVI Emancipation Festival weekend couldn’t come soon enough! It’s a 5 day bank holiday weekend when those who don’t stay and join in with the parades tend to take the opportunity to escape the August heat and discover somewhere new. This year, George, Mark, Claudia and I took off for Boston!

Boston is a beautiful city, and we made the most of the food and shopping that you just can’t get on a tiny patch of sand in the Caribbean. Mark and I ruined George’s enjoyment of the ‘Freedom Trail’ with an impromptu innuendo-off. We laughed until we physically cried more than once. I nearly spat my dinner across the table as Mark quizzed our poor waiter on exactly what genre of movies they were showing upstairs. All four of us miraculously celebrated our birthdays on sequential days and were presented with delicious complementary cakes and rousing choruses of ‘Happy Birthday’. We barely controlled ourselves as we watched ‘Fister’ make his debut as pitcher for the Boston RedSox, then lost it completely when ‘Bummer’ came to pitch for the Chicago WhiteSox. We discovered a Harvard Alumni mixer in the lower floor of a whisky bar,  into which we took turns wandering – I came away victorious with canapes.

12. The time we ate all the Pintxos

The best kind of friends are those you can go years without seeing, but when you meet up, it’s like you’ve never been apart. That’s what made our holiday in San Sebastian and Bilbao with Ed so much fun. San Sebastian is a fun Spanish-French fusion, with a unique dining culture called ‘Pintxos’ where you pick large canapé style finger foods from an array set out on the bars of every establishment. As is becoming a theme of these favourite moments, we ate far too much, laughed too much, totally failed to understand the art in the Guggenheim and ended up covered in sand racing up the beach in the moonlight, much to the delight of bemused locals.

13. The time I drove home up a completely destroyed road, with Adam clinging to the window, singing along to Willie Nelson’s ‘I just wanna be on the road again’ at full volume.

You could say that Adam’s trip to visit the BVI was a somewhat inauspicious introduction to the Caribbean. After bugging him to come visit and for the best part of two years, Lauren and Guy’s wedding presented the perfect opportunity for him to come and visit, then work in my practice and cover me while I went on holiday, it should have been ideal!

Adam’s trip began with a bumpy start. An unexpected tropical storm conspired with the BVI’s notoriously opaque Immigration procedure and the day before he was due to arrive, his work permit paperwork was still sat incomplete in a flooded basement. Long story short, Adam arrived, and after a tantalising taster of BVI beach-life, was deported back to Antigua to wait for his papers to be finalised!

When he finally gets the all clear and arrives legally back in BVI, we rejoice. All will be good from here on out, and he still has the best part of 3 weeks left to settle in and enjoy our unique island lifestyle… OK so by now you all know the grand finale of Adam’s BVI adventure (after all, what holiday would be complete without a Cat 5 and evacuation!?), but in the intervening week, we did have a great time in my island home, introducing him to friends, Necker Island’s furry inhabitants and ordering him his first Dark and Stormy.


14. The times I couldn’t have been prouder of my Hurricane Irma family

IMG_6278.jpgI’ve said more than enough about the horrors created by the Atlantic’s biggest hurricane in history. In a matter of hours it wiped life as we know if off the earth and replaced it with a scene which has been described by some members of the UK military as ‘worse than any war zone they’ve ever seen’. You will (or at least should!) have seen the footage of the destruction in the news. You should have heard stories of families with infants sheltering in their shower cubicles, a man left hiding in his fridge, 58′ catamarans tossed onto their roofs like leaves. Looters threatening each other desperate to provide water for their children. Prisoners released/escaped from the prison.

But what you probably haven’t heard about, is that after the hurricane had passed, they put out a call for those prisoners to return… and they did. You won’t have heard about the relentless work by OUR community to try and locate and reunite survivors. You won’t have heard that it was OUR community organising the evacuation flights. You won’t have heard about the Puerto Ricans (affectionately known as the Puerto Rican Navy) who loaded their boats with essentials like water, nappies and food and sailed to the BVI to help us waving banners of support. You won’t have heard about the hospital staff  working in dangerous conditions round the clock to help those injured or sick. You won’t have heard about the people who’s entire livelihoods had been destroyed but who turned to their trades to offer free meals for children, massages for the stressed, to rebuild damaged infrastructure. My own colleagues who escaped the rubble of their former homes to work for free to provide travel documents and medical assistance for animals.

You won’t have heard about the enormous outpouring of support I received for my animal aid campaign. From friends offering help, and from people I’ve never even met offering logistics, contacts, supplies, sending containers of horse feed and hay, making hugely generous donations. The Rotary clubs that invited me to speak and sat in stunned tearful silence when I was done. The tireless pursuit of all those still in BVI and Puerto Rico struggling without power and running water but still picking up strays, evacuating the Humane Society, tending the horses left at the track, filling evac flights with crates of animals and putting into action all my plans for those voiceless animals that received no interest from anyone’s government at all.

It is these things I choose to remember. Sure, it’s been shit, and BVI like everywhere else has its complement of those who are only out for themselves, but the resilience and strength of our people gives it a beauty that can’t be razed by any storm.

15. The time I met Meredith


Since I can remember, Cat has been an honorary member of my family. She was the one my parents would compare me to when I was being chastised. Our parents would share children in holidays – the boys in one home and us girls in the other. As we grew up, she even lived with us for a period, and while we might not speak daily or even monthly sometimes, she’s family. When Cat moved back to England to attend Sixth Form, I introduced her to another of my best friends, Frances, and that was that. We were geekily referred to as the ‘Tripod’ and it’s been that way since.

You can imagine my delight therefore, when in December 2017, our Tripod became 4 as baby Meredith entered the world. She is perfect, from her crazy long hair to her crazy long toes. And if Cat and Alex aren’t careful I will be taking her back to BVI in my hand luggage.

Turns out needlefelting baby presents is hugely therapeutic!

16. The time I got my dogs back

It came as no surprise to anyone at all that within 6 months or so of moving to BVI, a small scared puppy with ridiculous ears had turned up on my driveway and never left. We named him Mozzie for his small stature, lightning speed and ability to buzz around your ankles.

In early 2017, it became apparent that the Tortola Humane Society was struggling, so glutton for punishment, I sent out some feelers and with the cooperation of THS manager Vijay and the ever-amazing PAWS, soon we had a spay/neuter initiative underway and I began volunteering at the shelter on my day off each week. Soon enough I ended up with housefuls of puppies in need – one day, I somehow ended up with 14 dogs. Oops. Five weeks later I had them all healthy and homed… with one exception who couldn’t leave. She was a blonde wiggly vibrating ball of fluff, and besides, she got on with Mozzie too well to send her away. She became Bumblebee and we spent our spare time adventuring on beaches and remaining ever hopeful of treats at beach BBQs.fullsizeoutput_ec5

Thankfully, they were in the expert care of Adam and co. during the hurricane, and indeed Mozzie repaid the favour by protecting his ‘Hurricane Humans’ from machete’d looters in the dark days of the aftermath. As we scrambled and begged to get our friends manifested on evacuation flights, we realised that we needed to get my dogs to join me in England, but try as we might, there was too much red tape for them to accompany Adam on his flight home.

Despite all the things I was achieving in the wake of Irma – the boat loads of supplies, the animal evacuation flights, the charity relief teams, the government waivers, the one thing I seemed unable to crack was getting my two hero pups home to me.

As a last resort to get them safe we reached out to the selfless Bonnie Lukas of the ‘Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico’, and a plan was hatched for them to stay at SCARPR for a short while until I could arrange onward transport…

Then Hurricane Maria decided to join to the party. Puerto Rico was left as devastated at BVI, and all those who had provided the BVI with so much aid were left in a similar predicament and with BVI unable to return the favour. Three difficult months passed, but with help from Eileen Wit at Golden Retriever Rescue PR and the lovely Diane from SCARPR, they made their way to Florida, where the equally amazing Stacey of Good Karma Pet Rescue took them into her home.

But still I couldn’t get them back to the UK! I don’t know why, I still can’t explain it, but every obstacle I hit was just too much. So mum to the rescue, between us and Stacey we managed it.

Seeing my Hurricane Pups arrive into the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre was indescribable.

Since joining the Chaplin residence they’ve settled in well and are doing their best to repay my rescuing them by rescuing me.

Finally getting to snuggle all three canine members of my family at once was almost too much.

17. The time Dad and I dressed as ‘the walking dead’ for Halloween

Alright, so this ‘moment’ isn’t one single moment at all, but in a year of such ups and downs, none have been more so than where my family is concerned. Therefore, if there’s one note I want to end this 2017 memoir on, it’s celebrating my wonderful, weird, supportive, often goofy family.

We started the year with high hopes for some family fun. Little did we know, that Dad’s back ache would turn out to be something much more sinister, and two weeks before Hurricane Irma finished the job, we got the news that would begin to unravel life as I knew it. I will be forever thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to spend my father’s final months by his side and will savour the good moments amongst the ones I’d rather forget.

My April trip to the UK – making the most of the spring sunshine, taking to the somewhat murkier waters of the Regents Canal aboard Andy’s houseboat; acting like tourists at Southwold Pier; and embarrassing Mum as Dad filled my dress with pebbles on Aldeburgh beach and watched them fall out of my underwear as we walked up the street.

Our August visit from cousin Cicely to our (then pristine) slice of paradise – Introducing her to Mozzie and Bumblebee (I nearly never got Bee back!); introducing her to the delights of the Baths, driving unpaved roads whilst listening to reggae, our ‘jazzy’ friends at the Indian edition of our Supper Club…even introducing her to Michelle Obama’s Lemur BFF ‘Bob’ on Necker Island!

Our Weston/Calver holiday in France – eating some fantastic food, exploring some beautiful places and messing around with Billy in the pool.

IMG_6425Watching the seals and exploring Cromer for Hilary’s birthday. My one year old nephew’s appreciation of my new dress.

Sneaking into a closed Framlingham Castle and riding the kids slide with my cousins. Then getting scolded for staying out too late. 

All the time I spent with my Dad, talking to him and looking after him, incessantly bossing him (and his Doctors) around.  Taking him for trips to Costa Coffee and being eyed suspiciously as we put his Disabled Parking badge in the windscreen of my Porsche (nicknamed by Dad as ‘Thunderbird I’). Getting to know all the generous caring people at the St Elizabeth’s hospice. Taking mum out for dinner or just cracking a bottle of wine at home after one of the longer, more exhausting days. Dad realising his goal of meeting my two little mongrels (albeit in slightly colder climes than anticipated). Asking him what he wanted to dress as for halloween then jumping out at Mum dressed as zombies when he answered ‘a dead man walking’.

Making the most of Christmas together – Dressing the dogs in ridiculous outfits. Andy and I creating the worlds most amazing ‘pigs in blankets and brie croissant’. Mum laughing hysterically every time she put the ‘Speak Out’ mouthpiece in! Dad’s impromptu rendition of Gary Glitter in the middle of Christmas lunch. Getting him out of the house for some christmas carpool karaoke.


That was just a few of my favourite moments of 2017. I’ve left out plenty of other absolute crackers; Mark setting fire to Dan’s kitchen. A concerning number of evenings spent listening to Peruvian Panpipes at 5am. Trying to support crew Claudia around the Tortola Torture ultra marathon but accidentally pouring ice down her back. Beach BBQs to die for. Dancing on the tables at the Anegada Beach Club. Screaming in outrage at the Bachelor. Almost missing my flight because Dan, Mark and I were still busy drinking Ron Zacapa and playing the piano in Brandywine 6 hours before my 7am flight. Any of the times Claudia fell off a boat. Crashing superyacht afterparties at the Nanny Cay Regatta. So many other birthday parties and weekends spent messing about on boats and tropical islands. Too many sea turtles to count. But for now, 2018 is here and that will do.








11 ways that Hurricanes are like Vet Med…


2017 literally turned my world upside down. On 6th September, my beautiful home in the British Virgin Islands felt the full impact of category 5 Hurricane Irma, and everything I’ve known and loved for the past 2 years degenerated faster than Donald Trump’s Tweets at 1am.


Although I never anticipated living through a natural disaster, it turns out that hurricanes and veterinary medicine have more in common than I could have realised…and not just the many moments where you regret not having worn gloves.


Luckily on holiday in Europe when the hurricane struck, and unable to return home since, the past few months have been spent raising media awareness and spearheading a campaign for animal aid in the region.  To help us continue our efforts for the animals of the BVI please donate at Go Fund Me BVI animals of Hurricane Irma

1. Days can go from 0-185mph in minutes. 

Just like sitting in the eye of the storm waiting for the wall to hit, a quiet shift in the clinic can spiral out of control quicker than you can say ‘who wants go home early?’.


For scientists, we can be a superstitious bunch and there is nothing more unsettling than a day with no walk-ins; slow shifts usually seem to precipitate a chaotic whirlwind of emergency road traffic accidents, poisonings and ruptured spleens 5 minutes before closing.

Rule no.1 of the quiet shift: You do not talk about the quiet shift (you know the rest…)

2. No man is an island (even if you live on one). 


Surviving a hurricane involves cooperation, sharing resources and leaning on one another when you need it.  To survive Hurricane Irma people grouped together to pool supplies and gain safety in numbers. We frantically used social media to connect people with the help they needed and account for missing persons. We organised everything from aid shipments to evacuation and more. Without teamwork a whole lot more people would have died during and after these hurricanes, and three months on it’s still as important as ever. PTSD is common in survivors of natural disasters and speaking for myself and a whole range of others affected by the hurricanes, sharing your problems and worries seems to be pretty key to getting through it all.

Surviving a career in veterinary medicine is no different. Talk to each other, support each other, and you’ll find it a whole lot easier.

…And if that doesn’t work, lock the doors, hide under the exam table and eat marshmallows together till it’s all blown over.


3. The real struggle starts when the storm ends.

Seeing your home, friends’ homes, workplace, favourite restaurants and bars, all wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of hours is terrifying and humbling. Just like vet school, everyone knows that it’s hard and will want to ask you about it. Don’t even try and pretend you never imagined yourself in that scene from 28 Days Later as you emerge, blinking into the daylight seeing the outside of the hospital for the first time since you started surgical rotation a week ago.

You’ll experience the highest highs and lowest lows huddled with colleagues going through the same challenges. And hey, there’s nothing like a busy week on Internal Medicine or sheltering in a post-apocalyptic wasteland to help you lose that last few pounds is there? #refugeegoals


But when the winds stop, you graduate and step out of your bunker into the world, that’s when you discover who you really are.  When the media leave, aid dwindles and public focus moves on, you find yourself on your own, carving out a new life in a wholly unrecognisable world. There’s no manual for what happens next – you’ll be scared, unsure of yourself. You’ll question every decision. How do you know what it’s acceptable to put up with and what’s not? How do you provide others support without being taken advantage of yourself? How do you know you can get through it with your sanity intact?

Surviving hurricanes and vet school and finding happiness in the aftermath requires flexibility, strength of character, constant self-assessment and personal reflection. You’ll put up with a lot of crap (literally and figuratively) in the hopes it gets easier with time, but with no guarantee that it will. You’ll learn new things about yourself, ways of coping, what makes you happy and what doesn’t, and you’ll probably learn who is truly there for you when the publicity stops and you still need help. But possibly most importantly – you learn that nothing’s perfect and that you can’t expect others to understand what you’re going through unless you speak up and ask.

4.  A tidy house is a wonderful memory.


Just like the winds and daily flash floods, a career in veterinary medicine is destined to leave your house strewn with objects of unknown origin.

No matter how thoroughly you thought you’d checked your scrub pockets before you left work, those pesky drip bungs and syringes still inexplicably appear in your washing machine… and those are these least unfortunate of the potential treats awaiting anyone brave enough to delve into a vet’s pockets.

Once beautifully organised bookshelves inevitably budge with tattered journal articles. The dining table makes a great impromptu prep room for late night emergencies. Spare rooms soon become makeshift kennels for the latest foster. Fosters soon become less and less temporary… and I may have more dog bowls in my kitchen cupboard than crockery.

5. Learn when to keep your mouth closed

For everyone who’s ever forgotten the golden rule of anal gland expression… 

6. The basics will always have your back.


In a world where technology and advanced diagnostics are increasingly accessible it can be easy to get caught up in relying on the latest tech and external labs to get your diagnosis. And sure, many times that’s the most reliable and effective way of reaching a solid treatment plan. But what about your clients that don’t have insurance? Could you solve those bank holiday emergencies faster if you were more practiced at in-house smears? Could you have reached the same solution more cost effectively by going back to basics?

When there’s no power, limited phone reception, your colleagues are trapped in the rubble of their former houses and you’re on a patchy phone line trying to talk your already exhausted vet nurse through managing collapsed cats and dogs with lacterated arteries, it’s just you and your instincts.


Just like those who have spent the past 3 months surviving on a diet of cold tinned goods and sleeping under tarpaulins, these post-hurricane veterinary challenges have given me a huge respect and gratitude for the value of in-house options. Take time to practice your techniques, keep an extra smear to review once you get those results back, call the lab to chat through your latest histology report. Alright, so hopefully very few of you will find yourself working up acute anaemias in a power outage (FYI, iPhone torches make handy light sources for microscopes!)… but your clients will think you’re a rock star for reaching the same conclusion for half the cost.

7. Eating and washing are more difficult than they ought to be.

sleeping-positions-of-different-professionals-veterinarian-teacher-lawyer-engineer-28833078In the aftermath of a natural disaster, adrenaline keeps everyone functioning. The human body and mind is an incredible thing and it’s often not until much later that the true toll starts to show. Friends and colleagues surviving post-Irma BVI ran themselves ragged tending to injured people and animals, clearing roads and debris in the heat. One friend vomited from dehydration because she was so determined to salvage our patient records from the flooding. Even safely overseas, I worked for 20h a day for the first weeks arranging evacuations, aid shipments, charity help, pet travel waivers.

We’ve all been there at work too – staying late, working through lunch for the fifth day that week. You’ll go home then spend all night researching that tricky case. It seems necessary at the time, unavoidable even. But ‘work life balance’ is not a yoga pose – ultimately, burn-out helps no one. Take time for yourself. Look after your own health. Eat. Wash, regularly. You (and your clients and colleagues!) will thank you for it.

8. It’s different for everyone. 

One of the most profound things i’ve learnt from speaking with friends since Hurricane Irma, is how different everyone’s experiences have been. For some, the sheer trauma of surviving the storm while their houses were ripped from around their ears was life changing. For others (especially those of us who were away) watching your entire life vanish before your eyes on the evening news leaves you with an unshakable feeling of impotence and powerlessness. Not knowing if any of my friends were alive for 48h is not an experience I wish to repeat. In the aftermath, some felt the need to retreat into themselves to process the change. For others, busying themselves has kept them going. Some got angry, some sad, most scared. It can be easy to form alliances with those feeling most similar to yourself, but its so important to remember that wherever we were and no matter how long we’d called the BVI home, we are all survivors.


Teams in veterinary clinics are the same. Us and our colleagues come from myriad backgrounds and experiences. We cope with the difficult cases, ungrateful owners, painful euthanasias, uncontrollable animals (and children) in different ways (I prefer inappropriate humour and cheese).

Some are vets, some nurses, some kennel techs, some probably have previous jobs you’ve no idea about! When times get tough at work, it can be too easy to divide your team into ‘us’ and ‘them’ – night shift vs. day, vets vs. nurses, women vs. men, practice manager vs. everyone else. Respect and celebrate your different strengths and you’ll all be more likely to survive intact.

9. A sense of humour is ESSENTIAL.

Laugh. Daily.

You’ll experience things so surreal that you wouldn’t believe them if they weren’t happening to you. If you can’t laugh when it’s 10pm on a Friday and you find out the name of the dog from whom you’ve just (successfully) removed a 3ft spear… is ‘Zulu’ then who even are you?! 

Hurricanes are exempt from irony neither; In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a good friend lead the charge in connecting missing persons via Facebook, coordinating information and search parties to areas we’d heard little from – he grew particularly worried by a large stretch of coast on Tortola from which we’d heard next to nothing. After a frenetic 24h, he found out that this blackout had been caused because the whole road to the area had been blocked – by the remains of his living room.

When you see this post-Hurricane photo of ‘Sea Cows Bay’ in Tortola…

We have also learnt that Caribbean hurricanes are strangely respectful of our need for alcohol, with a number of us (including myself) sharing similar stories of our homes completely gutted by tornados – heavy wooden furniture and large sofas spun 360°, doors off, walls gone, roofs missing… only to find full glasses of wine (abandoned during the terror of the eye wall) sitting waiting on the counter like nothing had happened. Indeed the only thing remaining intact in my living room is the liquor cabinet with the whisky glasses still poised neatly atop.

So laugh. When the dog poops in your pocket. When you go into a consult completely unaware that you’re wearing your previous patient’s bodily fluids. When the ’emergency’ appointment for a tumour turns out to be a nipple. When the foreign body looks suspiciously like Lucky tried out an entirely different type of ‘rabbit’ for dinner. When you accidentally squirt freshly aspirated ascites in your colleague’s face (sorry again!).

10. It’s ok to get out if it all gets too much.


Its amazing isn’t it? To think that anyone would feel guilty for evacuating to safety after a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma. But this is exactly how so many of my friends have felt, knowing that they would be leaving friends and colleagues behind. I confess, I have personally felt a huge amount of guilt for being away (even though my vacation was prearranged months prior!) and not being able to return while my remaining colleagues work themselves silly has been beyond frustrating.

If you’ve read my previous blog post, you’ll know that career expectation and mental welfare are big issues in the veterinary profession. Why should considering a break or change in career be any more a source of guilt than flying to safety after a hurricane? It’s easy to work yourself into feeling guilty for taking steps for your own happiness, whether its leaving your home or your career – but if you’re at the end of your rope, it’s ok to get out.


11. It’ll change your life forever.

It’s tough, it’s humbling, it’s scary. It’ll provide you with photos and stories that amaze and repulse your friends in equal measure. You’ll forge lifelong bonds. You’ll cry, then laugh, then cry some more. You’ll loose all concept of ‘polite conversation’. You’ll have days where you want to give up, and days when you’re on top of the world. You’ll become more used to finding insects in your hair than you’d like. You’ll never again take a good night’s sleep or a hot meal for granted. You’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible. You’ll never find out exactly what that stain was. You’ll be proud of yourself for managing something a fraction of the world’s population can.  It’ll change you, forever, but it needn’t become you. Remember that.


Looking Forward…


This picture is the result of an accidental slip of my mum’s thumb this last Sunday. And although I’m not usually one for great flowery displays of emotion, it so poetically sums up my life right now that I had to share it with all those others feeling like I am. 

The last month has been without a doubt the most challenging of my life. 

In the year that I turned 30 I never expected to have my world literally turned upside down; to have been made homeless; to have my entire way of life destroyed; to have my friends and husband and I scattered across the globe; to have been powerless as I watched my friends lives and livelihoods ripped from around them; to have exhausted myself working from my parents’ living room day and night trying to establish aid and relief for the BVI’s animals; to have my own dogs survive not only Hurricane Irma, but then reach Puerto Rico in time for Hurricane Maria; to have no idea when I’ll be able to safely return home or what will be there when I do get back. 

To have, in some cruel twist of fate, my father diagnosed with terminal cancer over this same period.  

It has at times been hard to see any way forward. It’s been hard to get out of bed some mornings and put on a brave face as lovely well-meaning people ask you how you are, knowing it’s 50:50 whether you’ll launch into a rant ending only as they nervously back away, or just lie and shrug to avoid the emotional effort. 
But as the green shoots are now starting to sprout amongst the rubble in Tortola, we too are persistent and resilient and we will find a way through.  

Amongst the chaos people have risen above the devastation to provide hot meals for children, volunteer their vehicles and buildings to people they don’t even know, take abandoned animals into their homes, open the roofless wall-less remains of their bars to provide people with a well earned drink! Further afield I’ve been truly humbled by the outpouring of support and generosity by those helping with my campaign. I’ve been invited to appear on radio and in the paper, in veterinary publications and on blogs – the overwhelming message, people care. 
So this post, and this photo, is a reminder that no good will come of dwelling on what is already lost. It’s not about what has happened, but about looking forward to what is yet to come.  

To steal the words of a man much wiser and more eloquent than I, Terry Pratchett once wrote, “Inside each acorn is a tiny soundless voice which says, “yes, I am but a small, green, simple object, but I dream about forests” 

I don’t know about you, but I for one can’t wait to run through the forest we’re growing together. 


“Managing client expectations”… But what about your own? How do you achieve veterinary career satisfaction


Throughout our veterinary education, we’re all taught about the importance of ‘managing expectations’ of our clients. 

The plethora of prime-time TV shows like ‘Supervet’ can sometimes give clients an unrealistic view of what’s possible in first opinion practice (and not least in budget!), so the best way to keep everyone happy is to be realistic, discuss what’s involved in your plan, and, if appropriate, the relative benefits of referral. After all, nobody enjoys that moment when you proudly discharge a dog following a successful FHNE, only to have the owner ask what the ‘implants’ are made of.

So my question is why don’t we have these kind of discussions with ourselves? If we understand that clients with unrealistic expectations can never leave satisfied and happy, how do we expect ourselves to be satisfied and happy in our careers?

Getting into vet school is hard. Really hard. There are so many other equally intelligent, caring and enthusiastic applicants that we spend our summers doing anything to prove we want it more than anyone else. One of the things that sets veterinarians apart from, let’s say, an accountant executive for a mid-tier publishing company, is that people assume you’ve wanted to do it since you were born! We’re taught from the start that if you want a place, you better believe you’ve been destined for veterinary greatness ever since you saved that baby bird from drowning in the pond at your fifth birthday party.

“Did you always want to be a vet?” We’ve heard it a million times. Personally, I did a degree and a masters in Marine Biology first – fifteen year old me didn’t think I was cut out for five years of vet med. THERE!  I’m doing it even now, making excuses. Why is it not ok just to say “No”? 

Our childhood aspirations bear little relevance on our competency as a vet or vet nurse so why does the idea of us admitting that it’s actually just a job make Mrs Chance clutch Snowflake to her chest and request the other vet quicker than you can say ‘anal glands’?

Now for many of us, we really did rescue that baby bird. And that’s amazing! But even then not every day of your career is going to live up to the “all creatures great and small” dream.

You WILL get shouted at by clients, AND by your boss. You WILL make the wrong call and it WILL be your fault. You WILL miss something on that x-ray, or even that ex-lap! You WILL have days where every patient that steps foot in your exam room has a terminal illness, and you WILL have to explain to your clients that there is nothing you can do.

Regardless of how hard you’ve dreamt of being a vet, or how much you usually enjoy your job, there will be days where you find yourself praying for a day full of puppy vaccines so you don’t have to think too hard. And that’s ok! 

Being honest with ourselves about that doesn’t make us worse at our job. It doesn’t make us care less or try less hard. But it does make you feel less guilty when it happens. 

Google ‘what’s it like to work in veterinary medicine’ and before you get to the end of page one you’ll be seeing words like “burnout” “imposter syndrome” and “suicide”.  And that’s not alright. It’s not right to be in a profession where over half of us feel inadequate. It’s not right to feel like your failing on a daily basis. And it’s not right to pile so much pressure on yourself to have the ‘best job in the world’ that you can’t admit when you’re having shitty day… or week…or more.

So what’s the answer? 

Personally, I think the change starts with us. We have to be honest with ourselves about what our careers can offer us and what they should mean to us.  Managing our own expectations in order to be satisfied in our careers is no different than what we do with our atopic dogs or FLUTD cats – alot of the time it’s going to be great, but there will be lapses from time to time so you can’t beat yourself up for it!

I’m no expert, and I’m far from practicing what I preach 100% of the time, but here are some  things I’ve learned so far:

1. Spend at least an hour a day doing something non-work related. 

I adore being a vet (although I know it probably doesn’t sound that way!) and I honestly think it’s the best fit for my career that I could possibly have found, but at the same time I enjoy hobbies and friends outside of the vet world and that’s important too. Take time for yourself… And here’s the hard part… DON’T feel guilty about it! Read a novel instead of journal articles before bed each night! Binge watch that season of Homeland! Take up a sport or an art and you’ll find it so refreshing to spend time bettering yourself at something purely for fun!  I find nothing clears my mind better than trying not to fall off a surfboard or a horse, or contorting myself into unnatural positions on a yoga mat for a few hours! 

2. Have non-vet friends! Gasp! 

At vet school you make friendships that last forever. Nothing cements a relationship like the thrill of calving your first cow together or scrubbing into your first big op on surgical rotation. But our tendency to ‘talk shop’ can detract from point 1. Having friends with different interests brings variety and when your work does come up, chances are your non-vet friends will think what you do sounds pretty cool so and can give you a nice confidence boost to boot! 

3. Talk openly with your vet friends– Sharing the bad times as well as the good ones

We’ve all been there. You’re having a catch up with the old gang and everyone’s excitedly swapping stories of their latest surgical success or medical mystery. Sharing our successes with our colleagues and friends is important and fun, but when was the last time you brought up that spay didn’t go right, or the anaesthetic accident that shouldn’t have happened but did. When was the last time you admitted that you don’t enjoy your job sometimes? What are your friends going to do if you start the conversation? Judge you? Unfriend you on facebook? Run to the RCVS? Chances are, if you start sharing your lowest moments your friends will join in with their own. 

According to the latest stats from VetFutures.org, vet students are 1/3 less likely to discuss mental health issues with others than the general population – that’s 75.5% of vet students hiding an issue that affects 1 in 4 people.  And when 38.7% of those vet students are having suicidal thoughts that’s a HUGE problem! Discussing our failures and weaknesses and reflecting on how to avoid them next time not only makes us better vets, but it’s a great form of catharsis! When we’re all honest and share the bad as well as the good it helps everyone remember that we’re only human, and we’re all always learning, and we’re all in it together. 

4. Seek help when you need it

I’m no counsellor or psychiatrist, but there are plenty of people that are that want to help you. Mental health awareness in the veterinary field has soared in recent years as worrying statistics like those I touched upon above have become better known. Reach out and use them and you might just find yourself happier in both your career and personal life. 

If you’re having concerns about your career or future try the Vet Helpline at http://www.vetlife.org.uk/ 

Check out the RCVS and BSAVA mind matters initiatives http://www.rcvs.org.uk/news-and-events/news/mind-matters-initiative-new-veterinary-mental-health-and/


The Royal Veterinary College CPD unit has an upcoming online webinar plus series on “professional and non clinical skills” which includes challenging notions of ‘success’ http://cpd.rvc.ac.uk/courses/webinar-plus-professional-and-non-clinical-skills-–-what-are-they-and-how-can-they-make-me-a-better-vet

Even check out these free webinars from VetMindMatters and The Webinar Vet! http://www.vetmindmatters.org/from-mind-full-to-mindful-with-series-of-stress-reduction-webinars/

5. One final thought… Maybe it’s time to redress the boundaries about what ‘being a vet/vet nurse’ means

Does ‘being a vet’ mean that every day has to be something out of a children’s story? No – we all have bad days and good. Hopefully the good days outnumber the bad but accept that its ok to come home some evenings and Google alternative careers or sabattical ideas! 

Does ‘being a vet’ mean you can’t admit when you got something wrong or aren’t enjoying your work for fear of being judged? No – nobody’s perfect and everyone screws up from time to time. So long as you try your hardest you won’t be judged for that. 

Does ‘being a vet’ mean it’s ok for people that you haven’t spoken to since primary school to message you on a Sunday night for free vet advice? No – would you walk into a shop owned by someone you knew when you were twelve and ask for free clothes? We all trained long and hard for our knowledge so it’s not too much to expect vague acquaintances to respect (and pay for) that. 

And does ‘being a vet’ mean you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else? No – if you’re not enjoying your work then there are many alternatives such as reearch, pharmaceutical repping, teaching or even completely different professions such as law who love the rational, structured mind of a veterinary professional. The working world can often be far removed from vet school,  just because you trained hard to become qualified doesn’t mean you have to stick with it if it’s not for you. 

Confucius once said “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life“. I’m sorry, but i’m calling bullshit!  I think Cathie Black was much more realistic when she said  “You can love your job, but it won’t (always) love you back“. You can’t expect any career to fulfil you if you haven’t taken steps fulfil yourself. Take care of yourselves; be realistic about what you expect from your career; and reach out when you need help. 

Hello Paradise!


Adventures in the British Virgin Islands Part I


In 2015 my time at the Royal Veterinary College reached its end, and, like all recent graduates I took the plunge into a terrifying new world of responsibility and my first full time job as a veterinary surgeon! Unlike most other new grad vets however, I jumped in with both feet, and took that job in the British Virgin Islands; a collection of stunning islands in the Caribbean!

I’m very flattered to have had so many requests from people wanting to keep up-to-date with our adventures, so I’ve put together a short video of the highlights of the first few months! Here is the first instalment of our adventures, watch with sound if you can!

Life on a rock in the Caribbean isn’t all champagne and beach sunsets (although there is a lot of that too!). Sometimes it can get frustrating having to explain where you live via directions featuring the nearest skip because there are no actual addresses, or having to collect and pay your bills in person with each company every month. But then you just have to take a deep breath and remember that living here also means you get to surf with sea turtles every sunday, do yoga at sunset on the beach after work, and spend weekends taking boat trips with friends to explore new islands.

Adjusting to working here has been a challenge. I’d be lying if I said I there hadn’t been more than one occasion where I’d been left staring vacantly at the thermometer trying to decide what on earth ‘normal’ body temperature looks like in Fahrenheit!  The range of patients we see is huge too; every day we see everything from much-loved family members travelling first class to new climes, to stray and abandoned cats and dogs brought in by concerned citizens, and all the weird and wonderful parrots and exotic animals in between! Luckily my colleagues have all been amazingly supportive, and the genuine enthusiasm I’ve received from clients that are so pleased to have a full time vet on island is more than enough to push me through the tough times.

We’re super excited that the next few months will be full of visitors, so stay tuned for the next instalment which will be no doubt full of many sunburnt bodies and lobster dinners!

In the mean time, check out my Instagram account ‘MissPlaice’ for more regular snippets!




Text Santa for Guide Dogs for the Blind


So since my last post went viral (over 270000 hits and counting! Thank you everyone!!) I’ve been a bit unsure what to post to be honest! Do I try and do funny? Do I just stick to my original intentions and post about what I’ve been up to? Quite a dilemma you’ll agree… So I decided to post about something near to my heart, and as it’s TextSanta day today, I’m hoping I can use my new international audience to raise some much needed money for a good cause – Guide Dogs for the Blind.

In early 2013, my father, at just 56, was registered as visually impaired and now that he’s unable to work or drive, he decided in the summer of 2014 to spend his time fostering a guide dog puppy.

Meet Crusoe: IMG_4483-0.JPG

He’s cheeky, he’s playful, he’s VERY smart, he’s a world class sock thief, and one day he’s going to change someone’s life. He’ll give a visually impaired person the opportunity and confidence to leave the house and get on with their life, and more than that, he’ll give them a friend.


For those of you unfamiliar with the scheme, guide dog fosterers take on a puppy at just 8-10weeks old, and look after it for the first year of its life, socialising it, getting it used to trains and buses and people and animals and anything It might later encounter when out working. They help guide it through its basic training and mould it into a happy sociable puppy, ready to go on and complete its training and become a lifeline for a visually impaired person.


It costs money to train and raise these dogs, so I urge you to send a text message (SMS for my international friends!) with the words ‘Santa5’ or ‘Santa10’ to 70760 to donate £5 or £10 today, and visit http://www.guidedogs.org.uk for more information and details of other ways you can help



15 reasons why (not) to date a vet – an eharmony rebuttal


The dating website eHarmony has published a wonderfully upbeat, but sadly unrealistic list of reasons why dating a veterinarian is a good idea.

So in the interests of singletons everywhere, I’ve written a few corrections to save everyone the time and heartbreak when it all goes wrong (and because if you read no. 15, you will see we have no interest in consoling our colleagues)

1. They’re patient. Their furry patients can be stubborn and aggressive.Vets respond to chaos with patience, gentleness and a calming demeanor.
Just don’t expect your date to extend you the same patience when she’s just spent a 14 hour shift being lacerated by angry cats and trying to convince her clients that 5+ years of training means she probably knows better than the 16 year old sales clerk in Pets at Home.

2. Veterinarians are passionate about their work. They don’t choose the career for its prestige or the money, they do it because they love it.
Translation: You’re paying for dinner (unless you fancy Royal Canin samples of course)

3. Veterinarians work hard. They endure countless years of tough schooling, long hours at clinics and unexpected middle-of-the-night calls.
Your date will be likely to cancel at the last minute, perfect if you’re looking for a partner that you don’t have to see that often (which is quite likely given no. 4+5).

4. Scrubs are cute.
Not when they’re covered in blood and pus and faeces.

5. Veterinarians have seen it all. Nothing grosses them out. Or, if it does, they persevere through it.
Your date will have absolutely no concept of ‘appropriate dinner conversation’.

6. Date a veterinarian and you’ll be dating someone who saves lives, eases pain, and helps lives end with dignity.
Dignity is overrated. Your date will also be someone who spends a large portion of her day with her hands in unimaginable places, crawling around on her hands and knees and picking fleas from her scrub top. 







7. Veterinarians have thick skins — literally. They endure scratches and bites in the quest to make the lives of our furry friends better.

Credit; i.chzbgr.com

Great if you’re into super realistic Halloween costumes, not so great if you don’t enjoy being eyed with suspicion when your date shows up at your work office party looking like she’s been partying with Chris Brown. 



8. Veterinarians have rigorous hygiene standards. (No, your date won’t smell like a barn when she arrives for dinner.)
If your date treated a sheep any time in the last week, she will smell of sheep (Has this person ever actually met a vet?! ). 

9. Veterinarians are smart, quick problem solvers, making life-and-death decisions on the spot and quickly assessing serious problems.
Your date is exhausted and wants nothing more than a large glass of wine and to spend the evening watching Made In Chelsea and browsing Buzzfeed.

10. Veterinarians are big-hearted, often shedding tears with pet owners when animals’ lives end, and rejoicing with them when little miracles happen.
Vets have the one of the highest suicide rates of any profession and rely on supportive partners and friends to get us through the rollercoaster – Beware asking us how our day went in public unless you’re comfortable with the waitress staring you out while your date pretends she has ‘allergies’ into her starter. 

11. Veterinarians have the strength to do the right thing even when it’s difficult.
Lucky veterinarians have wonderful vet nurses who they get to do the right thing when it’s difficult.

12. A sense of humor. Vets are able to laugh at the messes and stresses that comes with working with animals all day.
Translation: Your date will be one of the most cynical, sarcastic people you will ever meet and will tell jokes that will make you vomit in your own mouth (unless anal glands and exploding abscesses get you going)

Credit: 24.media.tumblr.com/

13. Veterinarians make kids smile, helping their pets recover from injuries and illnesses, and showing them how best to care for their canine pals.

Credit: media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

Translation: Veterinarians smile and grit their teeth while pretending to find it endearing as their clients’ children destroy your consult room, poke and pull at the already stressed pet you’re examining and ask an endless number of questions while you’re trying to think. We also get to be the bad guy when their parents would rather spend £10 on a new hamster instead of fixing the one they have. If your date liked children, they’d have become a paediatrician.





14. Veterinarians have impressive job descriptions. They’re anesthesiologists, radiography technicians, surgeons, teachers, babysitters, physical therapists, playmates, protectors, cleaners, pharmacists, and best friends to needy animals.

Your date will have no time for housework, cooking or a social life and will spend most evenings researching difficult cases.

15. Veterinarians know how to reassure others in stressful, difficult times. They know how to prepare people for bad news, and can console them when that bad news comes.

Veterinarians spend all day dealing with stressful situations, delivering bad news and removing limbs from animals that make less fuss than when your boyfriend stubs his toe. If you want sympathy and understanding, date a therapist.