How to register with a doctor in London cover

After four years in London I have finally done it, I have registered with a doctor. In part I took the step because every rational human adult should be registered with a doctor, you know in case of the plague (dude this is London, it could happen). But mostly I took care of this little bit of life admin because I was sick of getting the side eye from friends, which after four years had actually graduated from the side eye to actual physical beatings as they screamed “register with a damn doctor” in my face. I love my friends, they only have my best interest at heart.

As to why I hadn’t registered until now (especially for all my London newbies) is because it is a massive pain in the arse (not literally unless you are a male over 50…a pain in the vagina for any girls over 25). Every time I actually needed a doctor I looked into the steps that I needed to go through and decided that dying in bed with tea, painkillers and Gilmore Girls was a better option. Just to check that I wasn’t actually incubating the plague when I was home in New Zealand at Christmas I went to my regular GP for a check-up – the badass rebel side of travel blogging right there.

So how do you actually register with a GP in the UK? First start with a stiff drink because finding a doctor that a) is accepting new patients b) you are in the correct enrolment zone for and c) has a good rating is harder than precious Tarquin getting into the elite private school where they dip their privates into piglets every Wednesday morning.

Seriously, every time I looked into registering I went to the NHS website (http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/GP/LocationSearch/4) popped in my postcode and looked at the available choices. Like anyone born into the Trip Advisor generation I read the reviews and automatically discounted any with an angry red rating. Opening a billion tabs to delve deeper into my chosen GPs I then looked at their enrolment zones. Yeah fuck that the only ones I was ever eligible for (and that were accepting new patients) were always the ‘0/10 might get typhoid in the waiting room’ ones. When I say some of the enrolment zones were small, there was one that the zone was one street either side i.e. you had to live within a three minute walk of the surgery to be eligible to enrol.

Commemorate lost hope

Anyway I finally found a GP that I was in the zone for, and that had an approval rating of 65% (which I translated as probably not likely to kill you) so I decided to go ahead. The first thing that you need to do is go to the GP and fill out a registration form along with your passport and a proof of address. Totally easy to do when you have a full time job and the surgery is only open from 9-6 *insert expletive of choice here*.

Then once you handed in your form you have to make an appointment with the nurse to go over the details you have written in the form (they also take your blood pressure, height and weight). After going to the surgery in person to hand in my form (very few will let you do this online) I then made an appointment with the nurse (earliest appointment was the following week) and went back to seal the deal. Oh that sounded way dodgier than intended.

This post sounds negative, but let me be crystal clear that the staff I dealt with were lovely and that totally free healthcare is a friggin miracle and not to be sneezed at. But I guess what I am trying to get across is that if you live in central London and have a full time job it can be next to impossible to register with a GP over here. Although the biggest win from seeing the nurse is that I have apparently grown 1cm, this officially graduates me from super short arse to slightly smaller than life-sized.

Oh and that pain in the vagina comment I made earlier? Well apparently any cervical smears you had outside the UK don’t count. If you are over 25 there is a requirement that when you register with a GP in the UK the first thing you have to do is get your cervix scraped…because you know FUN.

Kiwi yeah nah yeah street sign

If all that was a bit too much and you actually have something wrong with you then I highly recommend the NHS walk in clinics. Downside is the wait time in a festering pit of disease (read: waiting room), but if you go super early and take a book to read its fine. You will get to see a doctor eventually, they will make you better and then because of the amazing NHS you won’t have to pay for it.

It will all be ok.

Fingers crossed that after all that life admin I don’t actually need the GP; that I can keep going with my Gilmore Girls and tea solution. But I guess this whole adult thing means I’ve done the right thing by registering, and at least now my friends will stop beating me up.

 

Adore and Endure

As part of this months ‘Travel contrasts’ linkup with Emma, Kelly and our lovely guest host Zoe I was going to write a quite emotional post. It was going to be about how I truly am a different person after three and a half years of living in London but then something happened, something big. I am in the painful process of moving flats and was discussing at work how the new flat only had a washing machine, no dryer. Stick with me here.

I was postulating that it will be annoying to dry my sheets and it might take a while in a basement flat in winter. Then it happened. Global political relations crumbled and Queen Victoria rolled over in her grave as my colleague asked “what do you mean sheets?” (Emphasis on the plural).

Queue my very confused face and me saying “two sheets, you know the top and the bottom one”. This moment was as close to winning The Voice as I will ever come as four colleagues with their backs to me turned on their swivel chairs and exclaimed almost in unison “TWO SHEETS??!!”.

We booked a meeting and got a flip chart so we could really knuckle out what the hell had gone wrong in the UK/NZ relations.

So…New Zealanders in general use two sheets, one is fitted and goes on the mattress and the other is a flat sheet that goes underneath the duvet – when you buy sheets they come in a set with both elements included. You then sleep between the two sheets which means because you are not getting your sweaty self on the duvet every night you don’t have to wash the duvet as often. And yes you still have to wash the top sheet but it is quicker to dry than a duvet cover and you don’t have to go through the hell of putting the duvet back in the cover. HELL.

Brits however are just mental patients who have the bottom fitted sheet but then free ball it by sleeping in direct contact with the duvet. Inefficient both in terms of washing time and also in the summer months where they miss out on the joy of choosing at three am that you are little too hot with the duvet and just going sheet only. Love.

You would think it is the big contrasts that would cause the most outrage, but this sheet issue almost came to blows within five minutes. And then did come to blows after ten.

With defectors on both sides and threats of destroyed relationships and sectioning we decided to just shake hands and walk away. Me to my snuggly suitable to all weather low maintenance looks great bed, and them to the manky duvet only lifeless fun pits.

#politics

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London Bridge Expat Problems

I have been a very bad blogger, its three days into this months travel link up and I am only just posting! But I am in the middle of planning my next big adventure (its on a boat!), so today it is. The topic this month is our most surprising destination which is beyond tricky. I spend every trip completely surprised because the destinations in reality always blow my imagination out of the water.

So it comes back to London, it always comes back to London. I honestly thought when I moved here that I would only be staying for three months. I had lived in London before (well, Kingston but Greater London still counts) and it was totally not my scene. What was the point in a big crowded city that was exactly the same as home but with a funny accent?

I packed my bags and flew to the other side of the world, needing a break more than anything else. And, ah, well. I fell in love with London. Over two years later and I am not only still here, but am fully committed to expat life. Yes I miss my family more than anything, and I have my down moments, but London is where my heart lives for the moment.

Given some of my travel stories, I’m sure you expected something more outrageous for my most surprising destination. But to be frank I still can’t bloody believe I am an expat living in London.

Royal Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is officially my favourite palace in the UK. It’s not the biggest, nor does it currently have Royals sleeping in the beds; but what it does have is insane interior design.

The interior is Chinese inspired, with walls painted to look like carved jade, nodding Chinese statues and dragons everywhere. I love the balls/creativity of the designer, when he couldn’t source real bamboo (or just didn’t want to use it) he just painted other wood to look like bamboo.

The Pavilion was built over many years by George IV; a womanising drunken lout with no responsibilities, too much public money and gout. He built it as a pleasure palace, with all the space in the world for entertaining but conveniently no room for a spouse (which may be the reason Queen Victoria only stayed a few times during her reign, she was a bit fond of Alfred after all).

The room which I fell in lust, love and heavenly delight with was the banqueting hall. In a room covered in dragons, hybrid Chinese-English paintings, Masonic symbols and more gilt than even Napoleon could have dreamed of, it is the chandelier that stands out. It is 30ft high, hung with 15,000 shining crystals, has six dragons breathing out glass lotus lamps instead of fire, a giant mirrored sun disk and is all held in the claw of a 12ft FLYING SILVER DRAGON. This is the extreme opposite of understated elegance.

Also of note is the music room with a ceiling of 10,000 gilt cockle shells (and another incredible light fitting), the modern kitchen*, Queen Victoria’s bed and King George’s bedroom full of hidden doorways.

Mind blown.

To read more about the Brighton Pavilion, take a look at the posts by their resident blogger Chris.

P.s. the Royal Pavilion was also used as a military hospital for Indian soldiers during WW1. The beds were all lined up in the fantasy world that is the banquet hall, can you imagine recovering while being watched over by a giant silver dragon?

*modern because it is right next to the dining hall and not in another building as was common at the time. Oh and the ceiling of the kitchen is held up with four copper palm trees, just casually…).