“Take another step”: Medicine on the high seas and the lost art of a healthy advert

“If you are going through hell, keep going”

– Winston Churchill

It’s amazing how quickly a week passed – and incredible how much can happen in a week! As I sit here back home in Essex armed with a cup of tea made by mum (isn’t it odd how tea always tastes better when someone else makes it!) with my parents pottering around in the garden, I cant help but feel lucky. Why so lucky you might ask? Well apart from us all enjoying a natural rush of endorphins from the summer sunshine and the heightened expectations of welcoming in a British Wimbledon champion for the first time in decades, I have personal cause for celebration.

Now, admittedly the first one is going to have little bearing on you reading this blog – BUT I hope it may give you a little insight into who I am and my life – and so in time bring what I write to life a little more. Last night my oldest best friend asked his girlfriend for her hand in marriage. He then, at a BBQ for friends and family last night, celebrating the return from their month long travels in Australia and New Zealand, asked me to be his best man. For every guy reading this…yes…


It will be a low key wedding as they are private people but with beautiful children created between them I cannot tell you how happy I am for them to be wed. Having been forced to endure The Notebook on DVD by my mother I must admit that recently I have had a change of heart on, well, matters of the heart and perhaps, just perhaps, at 30 years of age, it’s time for me to start looking for someone special. What this space.

Ok – down to a bit more health and medicine thoughts for the week…

I like very much the quote I started this blog post with. It is about adversity in the face of hardship – something we Brits are very good at. And with this I explored going into hell…You see this week I went down to Gosport for a rather unique interview. It was for the 2015 Clipper Yacht Race – a 40,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe over 11 months. The Clipper Race is pretty special as it is all crewed by sailing novices who race other crew (14 in total). Obviously so as not to assume they will all meet a watery grave, the crew skipper is a seasoned professional and the novices are trained up over 4 weeks. I know – 4 weeks – it’s not much! About 6 months ago as I was returning on the train from a Surgical rotation in Guildford, I saw the advert for this race “Clipper – Have the adventure of a lifetime” as we pulled up in one of the stations. I glanced at it and before I knew it I had fired off an email to register interest. In my mind I was saying, “Ok, Nick, 2015 – soooo that means I would just have finished my 2 years as a junior doctor…could I take a year out for an adventure after that?”….well, after one poorly written application I find myself down in Gosport being interviewed for a position as a crewmember (and doctor) on one of the racing yachts. Being a single guy with no financial constraints it would be a dream come true – see the world, have an adventure and “find myself” (I had to say that last point as that’s what everyone says, right!).

Slight snag,

There is a £50,000 price take attached the privilege.

Now being the other side of broke that is unlikely to happen. If I could get a sponsor – great but in this economy I doubt that very much.

The whole experience would, however, be a fantastic opportunity to cut my teeth in a remote, extreme environment as a doctor. As I explored one of the 72ft racing yachts down at the Clipper HQ Marina in Gosport, I found myself excited at the romantic dream of being the doctor on board, looking after the 19 other crew members and myself. Then, in ports around the world, exploring the local healthcare system and broadening my understanding of health around the world. But, with a £50k price tag I am sure this will remain a dream. I will continue to seek out this challenge though – to practice medicine in an environment that places external pressures on you beyond the comforts of a hospital or a general practice – with the elements of nature pressing you to succeed and apply knowledge and treatment in an environment that is barely compatible with even just surviving. One day…

Now we are going to make a right turn 90 degrees and talk about something utterly unrelated. Adverts of TV. WHY at 10.30am on a Sunday morning am I hit with two adverts of premium Russian vodka and ASDA £1 deals of every obesity-promoting product they own. If I were in the least bit easy lead astray I would be a fat drunk if I listened to these adverts. How then are we expected to give kids, many of whom will inevitably be watching TV at 10.30am on a Saturday morning, who are more open to influence, a fighting chance to be fit, young, sober healthy men and women. We truly need to get a grip on media promotions of these products. By popularising products that are without a doubt bad for our health we are setting ourselves up for failure. As the Government voices desires for our children and population at large to be healthy – what drives this antagonistic advertising?


Personally I feel this is a tragedy and harks back to something I will often bang on about – The Knowing-Doing Gap for our health. That is, we know what we should do, but don’t do it. Is the government on the same? They make the right knowing ‘noises’ but allow though lack of interference for such advertising to be allowed. In a world that’s driven my media content – whether that be TV, Facebook, Twitter or online content – we are at risk of electronically manipulating our health down a very dark path. Not to sound too movie clichéd – powers can be used for good – or for evil – and so perhaps this wonderful technology should be turned around a little more and used to promote better health. It does go on I know but maybe it’s time to supercharge it.

Finally before I wrap things up – I am now 3 weeks until I start work as a junior doctor in London. Am I nervous? Yes. But, I will still stick with Option B (which if you read my earlier blog on my visit to my new place of employment this August 1st, will  know what I mean). In an effort to maintain this mind-set I have written on my bathroom mirror “Take Another Step” – it is a reminder to me that each day I (WE) should all push ourselves and whatever the journey or goal – it begins with another step. I am at the start of a long journey. One I relish but one I am perhaps not in a hurry so start right this instant. So for now, here’s to a relaxing 3 weeks…!

Have a great week and I hope to announce a new adventure to you next week – one that could have you seeing a little more of me in the future.




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