Friday 22 September 2017

My Life, In Three Week Blocks

Staff Nurse Wyvern SRN
My life is a bit unusual in that I live in 3 week blocks, where one set of 3 weeks is spent out on an oil platform working 12 hr days and on call for 12 hrs over night as a platform 'Medic', then the next 3 weeks is spent at home cramming as much life as possible into the time off. My last time at work and home had been particularly busy so here is a quick abridged resume of my last six weeks.
I am a nurse with a particular interest in Occupational Health, and the offshore role requires my skills in trauma and medicine to help care for the platform population. 
I am ‘out’ at work and have no real issues with being Transgender in the work area, however I am not full time, but present an androgynous image due to my long hair etc.  

Northward Bound
Work for me starts with 5 hour drive from Cornwall to London, a trip in a bus and train to the airport, then a flight north to Aberdeen.
I have an overnight stay in Aberdeen and have a very silly o’clock check in for a 50 min fixed wing flight to Shetland then a 45 min helicopter flight out to the platform.
The platform is about 100 miles east of Shetland, halfway to Norway and produces oil and gas that is pumped ashore for distribution.
Home on the Sea 
My offshore day starts at 05:30 with breakfast then I fill my day with various occupational health management assessments and preventive medicine routines, such as water testing and noise assessments.
My role overlaps safety in many areas and I undertake some of the routine things such as inductions to the platform etc. However my main role is for medical emergency response, which I am happy to say is rare occurrence. (Touching wood and black cats!!)

ManFlu Management
The platform population of about 140 is made up from a young and aging workforce, so I tend to see a lot of conditions related to the maturing individuals, such as back and joint pain, hypertension and the likes.
I occasionally need to send someone on shore for a medical referral, and often confer with the onshore Doctors for advice on the management of a patient.
The role is very varied and dynamic with me looking after COSHH, manual handling, noise, HAVS, Asbestos and radiation etc. and also the poorly individuals that come to see me on a daily basis.
After 21 days my time offshore draws to an end and its homeward bound, retracing my steps southward.

Southwards Bound

Week One
This time home found me running all over the country and having a varied leisure time.
Landrovers Lined Up 
My first few days home found me fitting new parts to the Landover and taking the vehicle in for a service. While I was waiting I observed the twice yearly ritual of picking up a new car on the first day of the new ‘67’ registration. British cars registrations have 2 letters, (which signify the area it was first registered)  2 numbers (that signify the early or later part of the year of registration ) then 3 letters  (which is pot luck !) My previous Landover for example was WL07CYW .. WL = Westcoutry, 07 = registered after March 2007 and the rest as the DVLA pleases.  
Every six months there is a rush to buy a new car on the first day of the new registration and the land rover main dealer had lots of Range Rovers and Discoveries going off to new owners. One range rover was wrapped up with a big bow on top for the new lady owner whose partner had bought it for her. She squealed with delight as she thought that they were there to book her old car in for a service.. so she was totally surprised.

The rest of the weekend taken up with having some friends come and visit to plan the photo exhibition that my partner and they were holding in the newyear.  We all went out on the obligatory photo shoot to the beach and cliffs braving the stormy conditions.  That night saw us all out for dinner in the town, that was a lot quieter after the holiday makers had returned to their homes from enjoying the delights of the sea side, surf and sand.
The locals begin to peek out of their houses and scuttle round the town again about this time of year.

Week Two
I do some part time work for an occupational health company when not offshore and frequently work away on locations that have very technical work sites. One has an international project involving neutrons and magnets making an artificial sun .. described by one of the workers there as ‘rocket science on steroids’ !! 
As I have to stay on site I managed to take my canoe this time and enjoyed reliving my early days of training paddles up and down the Thames.
It’s also an opportunity to dress fem in the evenings and relax, and have a nice meal after work.

Goodwood Revival
Staff Nurse Wyvern SRN
After my week away, I made my way home in time to unload the car and pack for the annual trip to Goodwood Revival.
My partner and I made the 7hr drive arriving just in time to have a meal with our friends who were also attending the event.
This year I was attending the first day as a 1950’s nurse as our friend had recently had surgery on her knee and was unable to walk far, so we had a wheelchair and I pushed her all around the event.  I had borrowed the uniform from a good friend and it was an opportunity to wear my nursing qualification badges again that I haven’t worn since leaving the NHS.
Sadly the weather hadn’t been very good, with heavy downpours the day before turning the site into a quagmire of mud, making the walk from the carpark an adventure. However as we had a wheel chair we were able to make the use of the curtsey vehicles that were on site for this service.
The car that picked us up was a new ford 4x4 with less than 100 miles on the clock,  but we couldn’t see what colour it was as it was plastered with mud from driving around the site.
Once on the site we started to mingle with the crowds.
There seemed to be a higher number of people in 1960’s fashions this year, with the knee high white boots being very popular.
My ‘patient’ and I had lots of admiring comments and some people asked us to pose for photos. My partner had made her own ‘Vogue’ patterned dress from the 50’s with no buttons or zips, and that was very much admired. They did suffer a wardrobe malfunction however from having a ride on the carrousel, where the wind from the ride nearly showed off her unmentionables to all at the event!  
Sadly the weather kept the majority of the flying program on the ground, but there were a couple of short displays with a mustang, spitfire, Corsair and P40,  the star of the air for me was the Lockheed P-38 Lightning which was wonderful and graceful in the air, sounded amazing, and was fast too … what more can you want from an aeroplane! 

There were rain showers on and off during most of the day but that didn’t dampen our spirits, with the fabulous things to see, people watching and admiring the outfits. Sadly shoes took a bit of a hammering with mud, mud, glorious mud and everyone seemed to be suffering. I was very pleased that I hadn’t worn my irregular choice ones that were more vulnerable to the effects of the mud than my black leather court shoes that matched both outfits for the weekend.
After leaving the event we were driving back to the hotel and realised the time – we would miss dinner at the hotel so stopped off and had a meal in a pizza express, all glammed up in our fancy outfits, well we do like to make an impression !!
Windswept 'Jackie O' and Warhawk P40C

Sunday found just my partner and myself at the event as our friends had other things planed for the day.
I wore a bright green 2 piece 1950’s ‘Jackie Onassis’ style outfit with matching gloves and hat, whilst my partner wore a new leather flying jacket that they had bough the day before and some warm trousers and classic heels. I had a faux fur stole to wear for the day that was just in case it became cold. 
The day was more of the same with a look at the aeroplanes parked up on the side of the airfield. There was a Bristol Blenheim bomber there this year and I must say is one of the most ugly aircraft that I have ever seen, even though its very practical and was very successful, it has a face only a mother could love !  
However as bad luck would have it, we were the farthest point from any shelter when the heavens opened and a mini- monsoon deposited its self all over us. We dove into a small tent to keep dry whilst others stood under the wing of a Norwegian Dakota DC3 that was being exhibited.
We took in the sites and wandered round the vendors and had a look at some of the cars in the vintage car park were drivers who drove them to the event could park their pride and joy for all to see.
Bristol Blenheim 
We decided to make our way home about 3pm in order to beat the rush, but on the way to the exit we were presented with an invite to participate in the vintage fashion show, which is a big honor as there are not many tickets given out at each day… sadly we had to pass as we would have been caught up with all the traffic.
On the way home we stopped off and had dinner with one of our friends who sadly was not able to attend the event at the last moment. We both had our outfits on from the day and made yet another entrance into an unsuspecting restaurant.

Week Three
Monday saw me working from home and slaving away in the office doing occupational health referrals, this was to be the plan for the week, with my part time work keeping me busy every day. We had dinner with a neighbor who had transitioned in her early 70’s and was still living life to the full!! And I had a night out visiting one of our friends one evening for fish and chips. 

Bits and Watsits
Friday saw us off out to the land rover show in Peterbourgh in the midlands of the UK. I am a very keen Landrover owner and so is my partner. We are both members of a 4x4 support team that are used to support the community when required.
The show is the height of being a Landover geek !
There are stalls selling widgets and whatnots, all manner of bling and bits to bolt on or replace, for every style and type of Landover you can ever imagine.
The Night Time Discovery's Disco-tech 
When you consider that the standard Landover is an agricultural vehicle of 50 year old design, with a one of the most diverse range of uses that are imaginable.
Farming, construction, utility services and emergency services are all the day to day things that Landrovers are used for, then there is the overland travel/expeditions, caravan towing, off road trialing and the list goes on !
The show covers all these aspects and shows off the Landover in all its glory (and oil leaks and rust!)

Biggles et al.
As I was on the east side of the country and not that far from London it seemed silly to go all the way west then drive all the way east again the next day, so I pottered south towards London and slept in the vehicle in a lovely green lane just off a quite B road.
Sopwith Camel 
After a quite night, breakfast and a quick wash, I stopped off and visited a site that I have always wanted to see that had a unique selection of airworthy vintage aeroplanes called the ‘Shuttelworth Collection’.
The aeroplanes at the site all fly and often are displayed at airshows up and down the county. This includes some WW1 biplanes, such as the Sopwith Camel that Biggles was credited with flying in the novels.
The oldest airworthy aeroplane in the world maintained there, a 1909 Bleriot type XI monoplane with an original engine along with the oldest British aeroplane too, a 1912 Blackburn Monoplane.
My favorite however, is the deHavland Dragon Rapied that is often at Goodwood, sitting in the hanger looking majestic, but that was next to the deHavland Comet Racer DH88 racer that has ‘it’ in bucket loads !...such a beautiful sleek classical design with so much style. 

Comet Racer
Blackburn Monoplane
Hawker Hurricane 
Dragon Rapied 
Bleriot type XI
The collection was started in the 1920’s with Richard Shuttleworth passion for cars and aeroplanes, and his keen interest in machinery, and grew from there. 

Vulcans and Dam Busters
After pottering around the aeroplanes I had lunch there and then made my way south to the RAF museum at Hendon.
This is a much bigger venue with fast jets and helicopters, but is in a pickle at the moment due to major rebuilding and many of the exhibits are crowded into small areas with no opportunity to see them clearly.
I was a little upset in how many American aircraft were on display as it seems to be an exhibition on WW2 aircraft and not the RAF. However there are some good British aircraft on display such as the AVRO Lancaster, supermarine spitfire and hawker hurricane. The fast jets included the Hunter, Tornado and Vulcan on display, with a wide selection of training aircraft and rotorwings.

So slightly disappointed I moved on and made my way to the place to park over night about 20 miles north of London in a small car park where I mange to twiddle with my wagon and fit some new sockets and reorganize the wiring in my cab heater while I had some time on my hands. The results were fab as I now have USB and plug sockets running off my primary battery controlled through the ignition switch and secondary battery controlled though an auxiliary switch – cool!! (sorry - Geek moment there !) 

…And Repeat ‘ad nausium’

The following morning I made my way to the place I leave my Landover whilst I am away at work and met up with some of my partners family before toddling off to Heathrow, to catch the flight to Aberdeen, then hotel over night then off up to Shetland at silly o’clock in the morning by fixed wing and helicopter, arriving at the platform for 09:30 …

Wow! Its ONLY 21 days to go till my next quite time at home !

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