Monday 5th November - The Special Kind: Being a Palliative Care Nurse

I had a really moving experience when I visited Trinity Hospice. Speaking to those who worked there, I felt a real need to express the great work that hospices do for those with terminal illnesses.

The story's not online yet, but you can pick up a copy of Kensington and Chelsea Today from banks, book shops, and supermarkets in the borough.


Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor on prisons, Savile's papal knighthood, and a controversial Irish priest

The main story on +Murphy-O'Connor's speech on prisons is the one I enjoyed writing the most. Mainly because I interviewed Ann Widdecombe who provided me with a "killer" quote. Lovely lady.



Friday 2nd November - Front page bylines

It's always nice to see one's name on the front page of a newspaper ... twice.

Working once again for The Catholic Herald, they were kind enough to let me loose and write a story ... or five.

Here are some photos of my front page articles. Unfortunately, the stories are yet to be uploaded online, but you can still pick up a copy of this week's issue from local churches or Westminster Cathedral.


And down page:



Friday 26th October - Review of Mind the Map Exhibition


To read the full review, click here.

Friday 5th October - Lord Sacks and Dawkins at BBC RE:Think

I've written a comment piece on the BBC RE:Think Festival in Salford Quays for Kensington and Chelsea Today.

You can find it in the recent September/October issue of the paper, which is available in every Waterstones and Waitrose in the borough.

The piece is also available online for you to read here.



Wednesday 26th September - Sister Act: Part Two

Below you will find a preview of the second instalment of my Graduate Blog over at The Saint (St Andrews' Independent Student Newspaper).

Yes, I can see it is called Sister Act. I had no say in the title, merely the content. It seems that the stereotype that comes with having a theology degree is not something that can be easily shaken off after all.

You can read the post here.


Friday 21st September - New Start

Whether you're a faithful follower or you simply stumbled across this site because you typed in "raisin," "tea," or "theology" into Google, welcome. For those who have been here before, you will already know that this blog is not about quantity but qual... no, scrap that. The majority of my previous posts have been about life in St Andrews and the Philippines. Amongst the sea of photographs there are some interesting pieces on theology and spirituality which I hope to repost in the near future. It has been a while since I have written any more than a sentence on here so please excuse the cobwebs.

Since graduating, life has slowly been throwing me opportunities that have made the offline world worth living and blogging near impossible. Back in May, I was lucky enough to be offered an internship at The Guardian. I attended the interview with the hope of simply coming out of it alive. The only two things that were going through my head whilst sitting at reception that day was 1. Breathe. 2. Talk.

You will be pleased to know I remembered to do both, and a few weeks later I found myself with a freelance pass in my hand, a view over Regent's Canal and the opportunity of a lifetime. The time I spent there during my internship was short yet enjoyable, so it came as a surprise when I was asked to return to work on a project. For the next two months I was a researcher on the Brick-by-Brick series, or as most of the online world knew it as, the Lego Olympics.



Like all good things, the Olympics came to an end and I no longer needed to be in the office every day. Urged on by a fellow intern, I applied to do the fast-track NCTJ diploma in Journalism at Lambeth College and the rest is, as they say, history. 

Along with questions or issues to do with philosophy and ethics, theology is what keeps me up at night - which is probably a good a reason as any to want to be a religious affairs correspondent. That said, I enjoy writing features and comment pieces as well as posting photographs I've taken here and there. 

In regards to religion, I think people underestimate its importance in the public square. It has shaped the world as we know it and it affects many aspects of life such as politics, law, culture and identity. Buildings have been built and destroyed in its name, as well as wars started and lives saved. Books have been written praising it, and placards have been waved denouncing it. 

But religion is not black and white. In fact it is one of the most grey things you will ever come across. It will make you think and it may even make you angry, but you can be certain everyone will have an opinion on it.

My aim from here on in is to provide a platform for my work, published or otherwise. At the very least I hope some of it will be read, and perhaps even raise questions or stimulate debate. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to drop me an email. 

Your ever verbose blog administrator,
Rachel

Monday 18th June - Pre-Graduation Hype

If anyone is interested, you can watch me graduate live tomorrow (Tuesday 19th June) 10:30 BST. I'll be one of the first to do so, so no need to watch through the whole two hours - unless of course you have a particular interest in old, traditional ceremonies in Latin.


Here's the link - http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/graduation/live/

Saturday 19th May - Pondering

Do you ever get that feeling where you feel like you need to be doing something with your life? Like you are meant for something more than whatever it is you are doing now? Initially I was excited at the idea of finishing university. Now I have mixed feelings. Perhaps it's the constant rain we've had the last few days, or maybe it's because I've just applied for Jobseeker's Allowance. Whatever the reason is I can't shake off this persistent feeling of being unfulfilled. Don't get me wrong, I don't plan to spend these upcoming days wallowing in self-pity listening to "All By Myself" on repeat. I'm just ... in deep thought.

Simply put, I'm experiencing a bit of existential angst. I've never been sure of many things but at times like this, I'm not sure of anything. I question my "dreams," my actions - past and present - and most of all, I question myself. "Who are you?", "What do you want?", "Are you really free to decide what you want, or are you just a pawn predestined for a certain path?"

Yesterday I spent the afternoon sitting at my desk staring intently at the window, the drops of May racing each other to the bottom. I can't tell you exactly what I was thinking. Not because any of it was particularly personal, but because I can't really remember.

I don't know why I'm thinking what I'm thinking, or why a tear escapes from the corner of my eye for no apparent reason. It's like I've lost control of my thoughts and feelings.

Tuesday 15th May - Finished

So that's the end of my four years here up in Scotland. For any of you who are interested, here's a sequence shot of my soaking:

I will try and blog more often now that I am free from the bounds of my degree.

As to what I will write about, God only knows.

Monday 14th May - The End

Tomorrow is my last ever exam of my time at university. It is the only thing standing between me and graduation.


You all know how much I love this place, but if you didn't, here's a new documentary celebrating the 600th year anniversary of St Andrews, narrated by Sir Sean Connery.

Tuesday 1st May - May Dip

In order to keep this blog work and child friendly, I'll refrain from posting photos of people skinny dipping in the North Sea, or any of me looking like I've been cryogenically frozen these last couple of months. So, instead, here's a photo of the sunrise this morning.

Sunday 22nd April - BOO!

I'm sure you can tell by my prolonged absence that I've been quite busy. I wish I had time to update you, my ever so lovely readers (or perhaps that should be "reader" or even "online abyss"?), but guess what? Yes, I don't have the time to. BUT, to make up for this (somewhat), here's a photo of me. 

It sort of sums up the last month or so.


Saturday 10th March - Onesie

This arrived in the post today:


Friends have already threatened to disown me. It's ok if you do too.

The Fruits of a Stroll

Unable to sleep I went for a cycle down by the beach.















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Also, this is my favourite song at the moment: Go on, click play.

Monday 5th March - My Weekend

This weekend, a friend and I travelled down to London to go to the ballet. If I'm honest, I wanted to stay in St Andrews and make the most of the time I have left up here, not to mention the ever so tiny detail of having a 2,000 book review due in on Sunday evening that I had not started ... Little did I know that I would have an incredible time, making the all-nighter and my current lethargic state (have only had an hour or two of sleep here and there since 10am on Sunday morning - it is currently 4am on Tuesday morning) prices worth paying.

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Friday afternoon and I'm standing at Leuchars station slightly annoyed that it's sunny. Don't get me wrong, sunny weather's great, just that usually when it's sunny here it's rainy and bleak down south, and vice versa. I'm looking forward to the ballet but I have a slightly sick feeling in my mouth thinking about that darned book review. I know what I'm like. When I'm in London I don't work. My friend's trying to convince me that I'll be "fine" seeing as I have 6 hours on the train. Hmmmm. I'm not convinced. Anyway, the train's arrived.

Ah London. I never fail to feel a great sense of warmth when I step off the train, staring at the skylights as I walk down the platform. I'm tired though. Didn't get as much work done as I would have liked, but I'm here now. Tomorrow's going to be great.


Bah. It's raining. Oh well. Friend's still excited about being in London. First stop for us today is Portobello Market. I do like it down here. So much variety and culture. Very ... London. Friend won't stop raving about how much she loves it here already. Wonder what she'll think of the ballet?...


We're a bit early so I've suggested a wee walk across Trafalgar Square. See, most people want to know the history behind Nelson's Monument, or ask about the art work in the National Gallery, but not my friend. She wants a photo with one of the lions. Now see, I wouldn't normally think anything of this but we're both wearing dresses ... She's adamant though. Also, being a mountaineer the high ledge is no bother for her. Oh ... she's just flashed her bum to the whole of London. How funny. I can't stop laughing. No use in trying to tell her till she's up there though as it might make things worse. Now where's Hector?
"Hey, can you pass my shoes up?" 
"Sure ... Erm, you know you just flashed your bum to everyone?" 
"... What? ... Oh gosh! *bursts out in laughter*"
Just looked at my watch. Where did the time go? No time to walk down the Strand now, so we best catch a bus. Ooh, an old Routemaster. Yep, just as I expected. She loves our buses too. That's fair enough. I'm a fan too. Oh here we are - The Royal Opera House. I do like the ballet. Really looking forward to seeing Romeo and Juliet. Ah, best stop rambling now, it's about to start.





Well that was simply wonderful. I was completely entranced by the detail in the costumes. Wow. Right, Covent Garden. Ah yes, friend and I should really get a photo taken together. Best ask someone.
"Sorry to bother you, but do you mind taking a photo of me and my friend?"
"Lo siento, pero no hablo Ingles."
"Oh ... tu eres Espanyol?"
"Si "
Now this is where it became awkward. I could understand everything she was saying, and yet my mind went blank. I was trying to respond in Spanish but my brain was translating the English into Tagalog. So I panicked, and replied in English with sporadic bouts of Spanish words here and there. God, how embarrassing. She seemed to kind of understand what I was saying. Well I mean, she took a photo so I guess that's something. Oh, her daughter's arrive. She's telling me that we have the same camera. "Ah, si. Erm ... anyway, gracias. Lo siento por mi mal Espanyol." I'm mortified. Wish the ground would swallow me up.







Had dinner down Chinatown. Will probably pop by the National Gallery before going for that cycle around Hyde Park. What to do in the evening though? Friend's asking if we can go to a swing club. Hmmm. Sounds interesting. Never been to one here but I'm sure Google can help me there. Oh ok, there's something on tonight in Holborn. Lessons and a social afterwards - could be fun. Not sure if we'll make it in time though. Anyway, time to go and pretend I have never seen Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and poke fun at Seurat's lazy painting technique (next time you go and see Bathing at Asineres look carefully at the slight glow around the bodies. To highlight and separate his subjects, Seurat seems to have just dragged a brush to form harsh lines, making the flow of the scene look inconsistent. Cheating not to mention sheer laziness. [NB I hope you all know I'm joking by the way (or am I?) I just like to think the things I say when looking at art will make someone laugh, and shatter the illusion that people who like art only talk about "how emotive this is for me". {I actually heard someone say that}]).


Well, our attempt to cycle completely fell through. It shouldn't surprise me to be honest, as it's happened before. I paid for two bikes but the machine(s) would only print one release code. Ugh. It's fine though. My friend still managed to do a couple of circles around Speakers' Corner before we gave up. Really wanted to try somewhere different for Afternoon Tea, but stupidly didn't think to make a reservation anywhere. We called the Wolseley to see if they had anything available but they said we'd have to just turn up and wait for half an hour or so. Oh well, Fortnum and Mason it is then.

Seems we're going ahead with this Swing Club. Not sure what to think. For all we know there won't be anyone there. Hmmm, small back street with 50s music and flashing lights - this must be the place *5 hours later* I think I can safely say I had a great time. Never thought I'd enjoy dancing properly (none of that stuff you see in The Lizard). Met some lovely people too. Friend and I were probably the youngest there but that wasn't an issue. I'm really sad I have to leave actually. Wish I could go to the Swing social tomorrow. Swapped numbers with someone so I have no excuse about not having to go with anyone when I'm next in London. I'll tell you now though, I can't stop dancing. Doing the Charleston towards the bus stop with a few bunny hops thrown in. Ah, London you beaut. You never fail to surprise. (Sadly there are no photos from the evening - a sure sign a grand time was had).

Sunday morning. Wouldn't normally be up considering our late night yesterday but Mass beckons. Looking forward to it. Mainly to see how my priest's beard is doing. Ha! Not really yes really. *1 hour later* Gosh church was packed. T'was a shame I didn't have time to catch up with people. As expected Fr S has just hounded reminded me about emceeing for the Holy Triduum. Apparently there will be a few Baptisms which should be fun. Not. I only say that because last time I nearly dropped the paschal candle. The gasp from the 250+ strong congregation did NOT help. Anyway have a train to catch.

Ah, travelling by first class is nice isn't it? Tea? Oh, don't mind if i do, thank you. Right, I have to work. I have no excuse now. 6 hours before we arrive in Leuchars. I can do this. I think. Before I start I'll just let the last 48 hours sink in. Looking out the window I can't stop smiling. I should be acting like a headless ostrich, but I'm still running on the high from last night. God forbid, I think I'm happy.

Monday 27th February - RAG Week 2012

RAG Week stands for Raising and Giving Week. It's the time in St Andrews where lots of events are put on to fundraise for charity.

I did some filming during that week for Bubble TV. Here's the final video:


Shame they couldn't spell my name right though.


Sunday 26th February - Antiques Roadshow at St Andrews

It's been nearly a year since I first mentioned stewarding for the BBC, but finally, the St Andrews Antiques Roadshow is coming to a screen near you. Tonight on BBC1 at 8pm, you will be treated to Chinese vases from the Forbidden City, as well as the usual appearance of ambassadors looking pretty in red gowns.


There were a few takes at the end of the day that required some of the stewards, including me, to play "curious members of the public." 

Praying to God the antique I was standing behind covered my face.

Sunday 12th February - Standing in the Car Park for Mass

Today I went to the 11am Mass and found myself standing outside in the car park, listening to the priest recite the Eucharistic doxology through a speaker.

When I first turned the corner on to The Scores I was surprised to find - what looked like - a group of people queuing to get into the church. I was confused. Were they not allowed inside? Had Mass started? Was it Palm Sunday already? I walked over and did what any good Brit would have done and stood behind the person in front of me (not too close to smell their aftershave, and not too far for me to look like I was just casually standing on the pavement randomly). I could vaguely make out what was being said inside over the scent of cooked breakfast wafting from one of the B&Bs. It was then (whilst thinking about bacon) that I heard a child's voice. He must have been about 10 and was reading the first reading. I was even more confused than I was earlier. It's usually the same person reading at the 11am Mass. It was then that one of the stewards said something about children getting confirmed today. That explained it. But wait, the boy still sounded a bit too young. I put the thought to one side.

Saturday 7th January - Revision and Old Stuff

Was looking through some old stuff to help with revision and came across this little nugget. I remember the task was that we had to write something on natural law in less than 60 words. Here's what I wrote:

One's nature is to be rational
said Catholic St Augustine
who was a Father of the Church
and original sin
And turning to Aquinas
who responded to God's law
in conjunction with his reason
and in the things he saw,
Leads to truly knowing God
without the aid of revelation
that we as human beings
are part of his creation.