2016 COT Annual conference 40th Anniversary- Reflections


On realising I will not be able to attend the COT annual conference this year due to a two week jaunt to Bali (such mixed emotions!), I felt it would be a good time to reflect on some of the things I learned at the 40th anniversary annual conference last year in Harrogate, Yorkshire. It was my first ever conference and simultaneously the biggest step I had taken solo for my occupational therapy career to date!

There was so much build up to this event for me and a lot of stress and anticipation. Despite the fact I was making the journey alone, I had also never stayed alone in a hotel for that period of time or visited Harrogate- plus my navigation skills in a new setting are below average at best! 

When everything was booked up, the nerves of meeting so many new connections and taking the trip alone were far outweighed by the excitement of meeting so many other people with the same passions as me! I was also excited to be absolutely immersed in OT for the next few days, something I felt would be so beneficial for my career. I was feeling professional, prepared and motivated!

I had booked up for a few lectures and networking meetings in advance so that I got to choose what best suited my interests. I attended a networking meeting for students, International lecture, Occupational Science lecture, Mental Heath lecture, Green Space Interventions lecture, Neurological practice lecture, Trauma and orthopaedic tutorial, Dementia presentation, BJOT (British Journal of Occupational Therapy) networking meeting, BAOT/COT annual general meeting and the Casson memorial lecture 2016. I felt that would keep me going for the few days I was there.

My favourite lecture whilst I was there was during the opening presentations and was on management in your profession, presented by Ann Francke. The lecture was fiesty and to the point and I left thinking about all the possibilities there would be after I graduate.The second favourite of the week was the Elizabeth Casson memorial lecture, which this year focused on the term ‘occupational alienation’ in different environments. This lecture revolved around what happens when a person’s occupation does not satisfy their inner needs resulting in isolation, powerlessness, loss of control and estrangement. It was very interesting to see how exactly occupational therapy can influence this kind of barrier and also to see that it is becoming more commonplace in our current social state.

I was actually really lucky to get talking to some other students from London who were also going to be attending the conference whilst networking through twitter prior to arriving. I was invited to go and say hello and made an effort to find the student I had been speaking with when I arrived. I was introduced to more people from Brunel university and then towards the end of the week I was invited out for dinner with them which was really lovely. So I can say now…thank you Jordan and the clan from Brunel who made me feel so welcome with you and made my nerves disappear! It made the whole trip more enjoyable and memorable for me!

In terms of learning progress, I found the exhibition hall really interesting. There were so many companies offering services I would never have even thought about before studying occupational therapy. Fashion designers who designed and altered clothes for those with physical disability to make life easier, games console engineers who designed special controllers for those with difficulty in motor processing skills- one ‘Playstation’ controller had the ability to navigate through a game with only movement of their head! I had a shot of it and couldn’t do it….I have never been a gamer though!

My plan of action after attending the conference was to keep up with my networking skills and try to soak up as much information as possible whilst studying in university. I have taken part in a weekly twitter chat for occupational therapists, continued to network through linkedin and twitter,and I have joined and attended regional meetings. The most important thing for me though is to stay passionate about it- I’m not unfamiliar with the winter slump and this is the first year I have actively tried (and succeeded) to keep up with everything I have been learning! Hopefully I can keep it up and I will try not to book my holidays over the COT conference next year!

Those who attended last year- I would love to hear what your favourite parts were and/or what you learned? Also maybe those who are attending this year can let me know what you most look forward to! If I can give any advice it would be to have your notebook handy, soak up as much as you can and network, network, network!!




A sunny Harrogate morning 🙂


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Re-educating myself about self care -touching on OT principles!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from our own actions.” – Dalai Lama.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but there seems to be so many misconceptions these days about the term ‘self-care’ and why/when we should utilise it. I love health and well-being related posts, but found myself continuously seeing posts about self care which revolved around peacefulness and meditation, bubble baths, spa days and massage…

Image result for lush bath bombs

Whilst I do love all of these things, it had me thinking a bit more about what self-care means to different people. I am fortunate to be studying a profession which focuses a lot on self-care, motivation and what gets us going throughout the day! But self-care doesn’t always mean relaxation, whilst I believe it is important to take some time out and recharge, I think this is only one idea under the umbrella of self-care.

To truly nourish ourselves, I think that we need to get to the roots of what we love, some of us might not even have found it yet. I am always finding new things to research and try out, I am a curious kitten who is never finished wondering what else there is to do. This might just be my personality but it keeps me ticking nonetheless! My partner nourishes himself by playing football once a week regardless of the weather- but being in a cold field in the rain getting muddy is my idea of hell! I think what I am getting at, is that in order to care about yourself, you need some form of spiritual fulfilment, and that’s where Occupational Therapy comes in.

Image result for self care


Occupational Therapy focuses on the meaningful activities we do each day to keep ourselves motivated and engaged in society. I’m not writing an essay here so you won’t find me quoting theorists left, right and centre, but long story short, an occupational therapist will help you learn the skills you need in order to do what you love, want and need to achieve.

Self-care is a MASSIVE part of this. I have learned that spiritual fulfilment is one of the most important factors in our day to day lives and something we need to practice to experience real empowerment.

This is not my diagram, but I couldn’t find a source so if anybody knows who made this let me know! It sums things up nicely! 

I think the biggest and most unhelpful misconception in self care practise it that it can only be done on a day off or a weekend; or any time you have free from doing things you ‘need’ to do. I think this needs to change, why not prioritise ourselves? I recently decided to take the reigns once again in my own self-care. If this means only 10 minutes a day, then so be it! Drinking more water and a 30 minute bedtime yoga sequence is where I am at just now; but I have already noticed a difference in my mood and sleeping patterns.

I would always find myself so focused on end goals I would burn out, and fatigue management is something I have struggled with in the past too! I have also read so much lately on how bad stress is for the body and it terrifies me! So my self care is going to become a priority, in fact, so far I am finding it actually facilitates everything else I do in my day.

Image result for self love


It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, it doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else is doing and it DEFINITELY doesn’t have to be a ‘tip’ from a Pinterest page (ha!)- just do something for you once a day. Take control of your daily routine and don’t forget that you are a human being with real feelings and experiences- not just a machine built to work every day to cater for others!

I invite others to share their self-care holy grail, tips and influences in the comments below 🙂

NB: This post is opinion based and I don’t recommend that you add anything too much to your schedule/routines if you are currently on any pain management or chronic fatigue programmes without discussing first with your programme leader!



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Mixing passions- Music & Yoga (My current playlist)

I have always loved the idea of music being our ‘universal language’, the concept that music can allow for communication between between countries, language barriers, time-periods, generations, distance, technology, our loving relationships…and so much more!

On reading an excerpt by Garth Stevenson in ‘Wanderlust‘, I enjoyed to see that he brought his two passions together to create his perfect and most content place, in his case, a meditative state.

Music has always been my number one passion, driver and motivator in life. When everything would fall to pieces, music would still be there. Throughout my years, my tastes have changed and (to an extent) matured, but still they develop daily and I am always learning something new.

But this is not a post about my love of music. As many of you know, over the last few months (years?), yoga has become a part of my life in a big way. Not only in terms of asana and postures, but as a lifestyle and everything that yoga teaches and provides alongside it. It is one thing to go to a class and enjoy an hour or two of practice, but I am finding the real fun in my own learning, and for me my whole experience was enhanced when I pulled together my yoga playlist! It brings me so much joy to bring yoga and music together and having my own playlist for practise really makes the time mine, I hope to share my sequence and find out what kind of music other yogi’s and yoga students alike listen to! I hope you enjoy my choices…!

My present yoga playlist (sequence 1)

Peacock Tail – Boards of Canada

Intro – The XX

 Ganesh is Fresh (omstrumental) – MC Yogi

Kusanagi – ODESZA

Interlude-3 – Alt-J

Venus as a boy – Bjork

Dry and Dusty – Fever Ray 

White on white– Fredrik

Raging Lung – The Knife

We’ve been inside for too long – Kyson 

Smoked Glass and Chrome – OTT

Lofticries – Purity Ring

So Easy – Royskopp

All of me wants all of you – Sufjan Stevens

Love is to die – Warpaint 

Underwater Love – Smoke city 

And for Savasana…

Shanti (Peace Out) – MC Yogi 

I will hopefully be updating my playlist every few weeks, I like to mix it up a bit and keep things fresh, so I will keep things up to date on here too! Are there any similarities here to other yoga playlists, does anybody have any tips for finding the perfect music? I look forward to researching it further!

Thank you for taking the time to read!

AO x

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Hands on at Whitmuir farm!

The other day, Callum (my partner) and I had a day off so decided to use it wisely for once instead of wasting it! I had heard through word of mouth about Whitmuir farm in relation to their organic fruit and vegetable delivery boxes which were apparently incredible- the photos proved justice to this- so I wanted in on the action!

I was originally just going to order a delivery, but when I realised it was only 16 miles away and completely open for the public to wander, I decided to drive out to see it for myself!

If I’m honest, I have always had a love hate relationship with the farming industry. Where one part of me loves the rural, outdoors-y-ness (??) of the lifestyle, I have always been on the fence regarding animals being reared for produce. After seeing such horrific evidence of mass production of meat and dairy products, it was refreshing to see such happy content animals roaming about the fields enjoying life… This was an industry I could support! In fact when we were on the field one little lamb followed us around for ages, nudging our hands for cuddles and leaping about! So cute I could have melted!

On our arrival, we were a bit clueless with what to do or where to go. You have a few different options! You can go on various walks such as the ‘pig walk’ and ‘duck walk’ to see the animals, there’s a gardening section, a ‘fairy walk’ for children (which the inner child in me loved the most), the organic shop, an art gallery, a grocers and a cafe/restaurant. When we were browsing the shop, we must have looked ‘keen’ because the man working there (part farm owner) asked us if we would like to go for a walk up to see some new piglets!

After traipsing over the field we saw the different animals up close and personal, one pig was about to give birth any day,but despite how uncomfortable she must have been feeling, she came right up to greet us :). The piglets were adorable, all huddled up to feed from mum, the chickens roamed about all of the fields and roads, so docile and social, and we were also welcomed by the token farm dog!

Fairy walk was such a cute and creative feature of the farm, I would definitely recommend it to those with children stuck for something to do over the holidays! The trees all have little doorways which makes for a fun and imaginative walk for playful kids!

After having a wee bite and refreshment in the larder cafe, we went to buy some goodies from the shop. There was so much that the farm produced on its own, however there was also a great supply of organic stock from all over the country, for those interested in a fully organic lifestyle. As most of you know, I am an absolute geek for a good grocers supply of fruit and veg, so I got a bit excited and bought supplies for the next few days of dinner- we also got some nice big organic eggs too -fingers crossed for a double-yolker…

All in all, hayfever attacks aside, it was a great day out. I found it really enlightening to see how an organic farm works and I am definitely more interested in approaching a more organic diet where possible. Does anyone else follow an organic diet? Does anyone oppose it? It is all quite new to me and I am still learning, so I’m very much interested to hear peoples views!

Thank you so much for reading!

AO x

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Shakshouka for Breakfast!

I first tried this dish when I was in New York and thought it was delicious! Eggs? Fab. Tomato? Fab. Onion? Even more fab. It was a breakfast of champions and I wanted to try it myself. This dish is initially thought to be Tunisian but there is no concrete evidence to show where it began! 🙂 This is a really simple dish to make, but I have to admit one thing… I was a bit naughty and used tinned chopped tomatoes as I was in a rush. I would definitely recommend fresh tomatoes if possible, for so many reasons!

Lets Begin!




Tomato Purée



Olive Oil

Spices to season (to your taste!)



-Dice Onions and garlic, heat up wok pan and put some olive oil in to heat up.


-Lightly fry the onions and garlic until they become translucent, we are aiming for nice soft onions here…


-Add your fresh *cough* tomatoes 😉 and let this simmer for a while, following this, add some tomato purée to give it some extra flavour, do not worry too much if it is bubbling, this is a drier dish so shouldn’t be too runny.


-Make little holes in your shakshouka dish to prepare for the eggs, and crack your eggs in to sit and pop a lid on top for a while. What will happen here is the eggs will lightly poach with the heat of the pan and vegetables.


-This is virtually the end of your preparation, season to your taste and when it is ready, pop it on to the plate. Note that it is VERY difficult to make Shakshouka look pretty on a plate, but I promise the taste is so much better! 😉


AO x

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When life throws you lemons… (Fighting fatigue with fitness and fresh highland air!)

I am long overdue a blog post, but I have had lots and lots going on so I am going to burden everybody with two or three posts today just to update!

I was recently at home in Inverness visiting my mum, family and friends and getting some of that good highland fresh air in my lungs. My plan for whilst I was at home was to bag my first Munro. People kept asking me why I was jumping straight into a Munro (over 3000 ft), but I had firm plans to take advantage of the great weather and I had been building up for months, pacing myself and trying to build the strength to do it.

As most of those in my life know (and the other lovely bloggers I have spoken with who have the same condition), my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia had somewhat put a spanner in the works in terms of life activity (particularly in my late teens to early twenties, before medical intervention). From always trying to cram as many things as possible into my day, finishing off with the gym, lately I have had to slow everything right down and completely revamp my diet and pace my daily activities. It has been most frustrating, this ‘pacing’ malarkey. There are a number of symptoms that come with the condition and it had taken years to accept that it wasn’t some kind of allergy, but I like to think I am in control of it to the best of my ability for now with the help of the right professionals! The only thing I can’t control however is a flare up- or when it decides to show face! Fortunately it has been less frequent with fatigue management, pain management and relaxation techniques!


I had chosen Wyvis as it is close to home and my cousins were up in Scotland this summer so it made for a great day to go up and conquer it! As soon as I opened my eyes in the morning though I knew the muscles were not great, I felt swollen, and it had taken all of the effort in the world to get out of bed! But my cousin and I decided to have a bash at it anyway. We didn’t make it to the top which is inevitable, but I know Mel could have gone so much further- it was lovely of her to come back down with me!


Bummed out is an understatement. I spent the afternoon in bed resting and thinking about what a pointless effort it all was. I wondered if I would ever have it in me to carry on with hillwalking and to get to the activity level that I was so used to before. After a few hours of feeling sorry for myself (ridiculous I know!) we all had dinner which was a tasty monk fish dish, but on the way home I stopped the car from feeling unwell. It might take a while to eat monk fish again, it is not so appealing when you have seen it in reverse! (Sorry!)

I never figured out whether or not it was a touch of a flare up and fatigue that day or if it was something already in my system just waiting to drain me. But one thing I learned is that I have never felt so determined to do something in my life, if anything, this massive failure has only pushed me to try Ben Wyvis again. My point being that, for now I might be bored of ‘pacing’ myself, but if anything, it is making my body stronger in the long run. I hope to be fighting fit again in the next few months! For now Ben Wyvis is my Everest…watch this space!

The photos are from the walking that I did manage, hopefully I will be able to get some from the top the next time! 😉


IMG_4383 IMG_4384  IMG_4391 IMG_4392  IMG_4395 IMG_4397IMG_4390



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Easy Tarka Dahl…my first attempt at Middle Eastern cuisine!

Well it has been a rather eventful week here in Edinburgh, we have had the Jazz and Blues festival and as HUGE blues fans, my partner and I have tried to squeeze in as much of is as we can, so this post is probably a bit overdue…but nevertheless I found an evening to have an attempt at a vegetarian (and vegan friendly) Middle Eastern dish, Broccoli Tarka Dahl, which is a lentil based curry! The theory behind this dish isn’t too far from a soup recipe, most of the preparation is at the very start then it is just a case of waiting for it to simmer until it is at the desired consistency.



200g of lentils (I used yellow, however red lentils will make the dish much more quickly!)

One head of Broccoli

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion

6-8 cloves of garlic

0.5-1 tsp chilli powder

2 tbsp cumin seeds

0.5 tsp turmeric

1.5-2 litres of water


– First soak the lentils for at least 20-30 minutes, then rinse them under cold water.


– Prepare all the vegetables, cutting the onions randomly and the broccoli into small florets.


– Pop the lentils and broccoli in to a large pan. I, at this point, add my oil, I find it stops things from sticking to the pan, I have no idea if my theory works, however whenever I do not use a little oil, my food sticks to the bottom of the pan!


-When this comes to a boil, add your turmeric, garlic, cumin and chilli powder. The mix of these three ingredients is the secret to making the dish so good! You will immediately fill your kitchen with the amazing smell it has. It is completely up to you if you want to up the dose of chilli or not, I added more later on to taste as I like a kick to my food, but this dish is also great mild, as the lentils and spices are really aromatic and flavoursome!


-Now it’s just a waiting game, this can take 40-60 minutes depending on which lentils you use, they tend to differ in cooking times.

-When it is looking promising, you are ready to eat! Some folk add salt or pepper to taste, I’m trying to cut out my salt intake right now as I am guilty of going overboard, so I avoided it this time!


-I enjoyed this dish with some quinoa and coconut flakes on top. Others may prefer a good old naan bread…it’s always a winner! Hope you enjoy!


AO x

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