Stress

I am sure some people I know have already seen this TED talk video. If you have not I would advise you to watch it.

I have avoided uploading videos about health to my blog. I have put links to other videos in the links section, but I avoid putting them in the main sections as I feel some videos can be a bit forceful about giving advice which doctors may give with caution. Talk to your doctor before doing anything or taking advice from someones video or blog (I included my own blog in that). Having said all that, I think this video of a TED talk about stress is very interesting. I have experienced a lot of stress at points and think that the simple advice this talk offers is very good.

I am sure in some respects too much stress is not healthy but to some degree it is a part of life. The main message of the talk is to “think of your stress response as helpful.” The closing statement is very good as well. “Go after what creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

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One Year

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Oscar Wilde

This was only meant to be a short post, but it seems to have become a little longer than I intended. I apologise for rambling. There are quite few things I would like to write about as I find writing can be quite relaxing (if people want to read it as well, that’s great). I am not being very productive with my time at the moment, so I am not writing much. Also I warn you there is some mention of poo and bowel movements. I am sorry if this offends you or upsets you but seeing as one of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about ulcerative colitis (UC) and show other people who might suffer from other conditions that it is better to talk about it than to ignore it. Anyway you are just reading about it, I had to experience it.

Last year on 30th October I went into hospital for the first stage of my two part surgery to remove my large intestine and form a pouch from the base of my small intestine. For those who don’t know, this was due to me suffering from UC leading to my immune system being somewhat confused and feeling the need to attack my large intestine. Medical treatment was not working so the only option I felt I had was surgery.

I was terrified. I had arrived at the hospital early in the morning. It was going to be a long operation so they wanted to start it early. It’s a strange thing to be sitting in hospital waiting to have one part of body removed because another part you cannot control is attacking it. I do not want to go into the operation in detail as I have already written something about that. The surgical team were great.

There are so many things I have done in the year since I had my operation which I like to think some people might not quite believe. I have not said that I can’t believe it because I always knew that I was going to turn things around after how ill I had been. I may have felt low at points and felt abandoned or felt I was bringing people down but I wasn’t going to let any of that stop me. I was determined that once I had had the operation I would start to get my life back in order and start living again rather than existing. I was no longer going to be the person that people were glad they were not.

So I have tried to fit in quite a lot this year. There are still things I could have done but I still haven’t quite shaken my habit of often feeling I could have done more. So, to put things in perspective about how much better this past year has been than the couple before it. For most of 2011 and 2012, I rarely left the house, if I did it was to go into hospital, I could barely eat or didn’t want to eat, I didn’t sleep properly, I was losing blood nearly every day, I was taking various pills every day (sometimes almost 30), I could not work, I could not socialise and I had little to no bowel control due to my UC, I felt nervous if I was more than 30 seconds away from a toilet. If you have any doubt about how difficult this makes life try taking some strong laxatives and seeing how you feel after they have run the course. I am still not sure if that would give you the right idea. Sorry that was a little aggressive. My family have been amazingly supportive through all of this.

Anyway. Although I had some problems after the first operation requiring the second operation to be performed earlier than planned. After I had the second operations I was determined to be active. I may have become tired quite easily and experienced pain at times but you have to start somewhere. By February I was riding my bike and I was able to do some exercise in the gym and I could swim. I went caving with friends in March which was fantastic. I went to Northern Ireland in April to do some hiking and see the Giants Causeway. I was trying to active as much as possible. I went on an excavation in Jersey in July and did my first bit of digging in years. I was able to do yoga again. Best of all I went to South America for six weeks from August. There is way too much to say about that trip to write here but I will write about it at some point and shamelessly show off about my experience. I could walk up and down mountains, ride a bike, go swimming, play football (I was rubbish), and enjoy my time exploring an amazing continent…as much as you can explore somewhere so big with so little time. I have also been able to get back to my master’s degree, a bit of an anti-climax after my travels but great to get back to it. I should be working more at university but I am good at providing myself with distractions. Like going to gigs. I have been able to go to quite a few gigs this year. I have seen some of my favourite bands play live. I finally got round to seeing These New Puritans play live which was amazing.

about 4600 m above sea level at the first mountain pass on my treck towards Machu Picchu.

about 4600 m above sea level at the first mountain pass on my treck towards Machu Picchu.

If there is any message or meaningful point to this post it should be don’t let anything stop you! Your biggest enemy is yourself. If you lose faith in yourself then you really have lost. Other people may give up on you but don’t let that stop you. That is easier said than done, I know. Don’t give up and there is always something you can do to be proud or enjoy or aim to achieve.

Not too sure what to say with this. I haven't got round to showing many people all my pictures from South America. Thought people might like one of the many (many, many, etc) pictures from Machu Picchu. I know it is the classic image. I was there!

Not too sure what to say with this. I haven’t got round to showing many people all my pictures from South America. Thought people might like one of the many (many, many, etc) pictures from Machu Picchu. I know it is the classic image. I was there!

PS Sorry if I come across as slightly aggressive or annoyed in parts of this post.

Jersey Ice Age Island July 2013

The Ice Age Island

The Ice Age Island

On Saturday 27th I returned from working on the Ice Age Island Project. The project aims to study the traces of ancient human occupation and the geological record stretching back hundreds of thousands of years of the Channel Island of Jersey. It will deliver new understanding of the island’s deep past and share this research with scientists and the public, enhancing the presentation of Jersey’s already considerable heritage and natural history resources.

LINK: http://iceageisland.wordpress.com/

For two weeks we had amazing weather. There was bright sunshine nearly every day. A couple of days started a little overcast but that didn’t last and there was one thunder storm in the middle of the night and some brief heavy rain one evening. Other than that there was scorching heat the majority of the time.

Wonderful view from where we were camping

Wonderful view from where we were camping

It was great to work with such an experienced and knowledgeable team. I hope I pulled my weight and didn’t get in the way. This is definitely the best project I have worked on. I may not be very experienced or knowledgeable of the period being excavated and investigated but I feel I learnt a lot. This is the first time I have worked on a project when everyone has stayed in the same area. Previously I have always gone home and there is a very different working atmosphere. There was a great atmosphere between everyone involved in the project.

Also the evening meals on the project were great. Cooking for that many people and it always being of a high standard is the sign of a very good cook.

I would like say a big thank you to everyone who welcomed me into the project and to Sam Griffiths for getting me involved and vouching for me. I would also like to thank Dr Matt Pope and to Dr Beccy Shaw for trusting Sam.

Hopefully I don’t make too many mistakes and provide dubious information in this post.

 

13th July 2013-Day 1

I arrived on Jersey feeling a little nervous. I had not done any formal archaeological work in over a year and I am nervous around new people and was going to work on a project where I only knew one person. It turns out I actually knew two people and that everyone on the project was very friendly and welcoming.

The day I arrived was a day off so we went to the beach and had a BBQ in the evening for everyone to get to know each other.

Le Cotte

Le Cotte

As well as a day at the beach I also went to see La Cotte de St Brelade. A site I knew little about but intend to learn more about as from what I have learnt it is incredibly interesting and a very impressive natural formation. It is often referred to as a cave but I understand it is better to describe it as a formation of dykes and fissures in an ancient valley system. Evidence recovered from the site suggests that it is an area of occupation by both Neanderthal and early modern man. It is also thought that it might have been used in hunting drives, though I think the likeness or feasibility of this is debated. Over 94,000 objects have been recovered from the site. This seems to be only a fraction of what could be recovered as there are still areas to excavate. There have been various excavations and work carried out at the site since the late 1800s. I will try not to go into any more detail as I don’t want to make mistake in discussing a site I still don’t know much about.

Heading into Le Cotte

Heading into Le Cotte

 

14th July-Day 2

This was my first day on an archaeological site since September 2011. I was quite nervous as I had not worked on a Palaeolithic or Mesolithic site before and while I could remember digging and doing other excavation work such as planning I didn’t remember all the details of how to do all these things exactly.

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The site I was working on was Col de la Rocque. The purpose of digging at the site was to find evidence of Mesolithic activity. We had permission from the National Trust to dig in two fields. Geophysics had been carried out in one field with more to be carried out in another field. This was to aid in were best to place the test pits. A couple of the pits were opened as pits to investigate the geology of the site to confirm results from the surveying. Other pits would be positioned to investigate anomalies in the geophysics results.

This was the first day the site was open so we were starting to open up test pits. I was handed a mattock and asked to dig a metre by metre test pit. I was happy with this as I could remember how to do this. The day on site was spent digging the test pits in areas based on geophysics carried out on the site. There were not too many objects coming out of the top soil and we didn’t have sieves so sieving the top soil needed to wait until the next day. There was evidence of worked flint coming out of some of the test pits so there was evidence of activity in the area.

Being able to go to the beach after a tiring day working in the heat was amazing.

 

15th July-Day 3

Day three involved a lot of sieving of the topsoil which I had dug up the day before from Test Pit 6. When I say a lot I mean the whole day. This was a little frustrating but a necessary part of excavation and again something which I could remember how to do. There was justification for this as we were finding worked flint from the topsoil. Not as much was coming out of the pit I was working on as there was from other but there was enough to justify the work.

After a day of sieving being able to go to the beach after work was a good way to finish work.

 

Mist at the start of a day at Col de le Rocque

Mist at the start of a day at Col de le Rocque

 

16th July-Day 4

Day 4 started the same as day 3 had ended with sieving. The odd find came from the sieving. By lunch time we had sieved through the topsoil of Test Pit 6. I started work on Test Pit 2 in the afternoon. TP 2 was positioned over part of an anomaly with a 5 metre diameter. The topsoil in this area of the field seemed to be deeper. TP 6 was near the top of the field while TP 2 was in the lowest part of the field so a lot of soil would have subsided to this area.

TP2 was about 50cm deep and there was still topsoil so it was decided to start taking down the base of the pit in 2cm spits. I was familiar with this technique though I had not done it in a very long time and think I had only done it once before. If any artefacts were revealed they were to be plotted in position with a total station.

The evening involved going to The Airport Social Club or Flight Club as it is popularly known. I seemed to make an impression on people by having a lot of random music on my iPod which we were allowed to connect to their PA system.

 

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17th July-Day 5

I was continuing with working on digging 2cm spits at Col de la Rocque, I think I was working on TP 5. After the mid-morning break there were some A-Level students who came to work on the site. I worked on opening up a new pit, I can’t remember which number this was. After opening it up the section edges needed a lot of cleaning and neatening as I had been a bit vigorous in digging down. From what I remember not much was coming out of the top soil of this pit as it was being sieved. This pit was positioned towards the top of the field like TP 6.

18th July-Day 6

Les Varines

Les Varines

Today was my first day at Les Varines. This was and is a confusing site. It was dug in a slightly unorthodox way but to dig it in a more conventional way would have been very time consuming a probably ended up even more confusing and the site would have been harder to understand. Les Varines involved very careful and attentive work. There were a lot of flint artefacts coming out of some of the layers and in later days there were artefacts coming out of layers which it was thought were sterile.

There had been different trenches opened up at Les Varines in previous years. The trench this year was to help with understanding the information and evidence gained from the previous trenches.

From what I understand it is thought that there is a Palaeolithic settlement at the site but that it has been affected by subsidence so the artefacts are not always in situ.

There was a main layer which flint artefacts were coming from. As with Col de la Rocque these were being planned in using a total station. Through this information it was possible to gain a better understanding of the site and see how the trenches relate to each other. It is possible to construct 3D models to show the distribution of the artefacts over the site.

After work this day some of us went kayaking. This was a great experience, though it was very tiring. The views of the Jersey coast line were amazing. Wish I had a water proof camera so I could have taken some pictures.

 

19th July-Day 7

My second day at Les Varines and I was feeling like I understood the site a bit better. This involved more careful excavation. As of yet we had not started to uncover flints from layers which were thought to be sterile which would lead to reinterpretations of the trench. Reinterpretation is not a bad thing. It is always better to change a theory or idea based on evidence than to ignore or manipulate evidence to stick to a theory.

Les Varines was always an interesting site to work on as there were often in depth conversations about what might be going on in the trench and the different events which may have caused the lay out of the layers and artefacts in the trench.

The evening meal today was fish and chips which we ate at Flight Club. This was a very fun evening as the next day was a day off so most people stayed up until Flight Club shut at 2am. The barman was very kind and seemed to enjoy the company of a lot of drunken archaeologists. Thinking about it most bar staff should be used to the sight of drunken archaeologists.

 

20th July-Day 8

A day off when I carried out some much needed laundry!

I wandered around St. Helier in the afternoon and had dinner with some of the other students on the dig at a restaurant in the evening.

I passed out at about 9 o’clock in the evening when we got back to site. I don’t think I was the only person to go to sleep pretty early.

At about 2am there was a thunder storm and this was the first significant rain we had had since I arrived. There wasn’t much evidence of the rain in the morning from what I remember.

21st July-Day 9

Work at Les Varines involved wet sieving and excavating today. The wet sieving revealed quite a few flint flakes some quite small.

There was a bit more rain this evening which coincided with a BBQ. I think this was also the night when people were dressed as narwhals and woolly mammoths. I was very tired this evening so I completely missed this.

 

22nd July-Day 10   

Today I went to work in the stores to help with the repacking of some of the 94,000 objects that have been recovered from Le Cotte. So far through the work of students and PhD students Sam Griffiths and Andy Needham about 20,000 objects have been repacked.

There were more unusual events back at the camp in the evening which again I missed because I was so tired and had gone to bed. It seems there was court inquiry into an apparent tent violation.

 

23rd July-Day 11

Back to work excavating at Les Varines. I don’t mind archiving work but I prefer to get out and dig if I get the opportunity, though I am glad that I got to see other aspects of the work that was being carried out as part of the Ice Age Island project.

I think this was the day when in the process of trying to start getting as much work done on the trench as possible in the hope of finishing some things off we started to uncover flints in areas and layers which we had not been expecting to. Thus leading to more discussions as to what on earth was going on in the trench.

 

24th July-Day 12

Today I started the day doing finds processing in the morning.

I went to Col de le Rocque for the afternoon to work on a new test pit which had been opened up in the second field which we had permission to dig in. I was working on TP 9. Three pits were opened in the second field. Some geophysics had been carried out in the field to help with the placing of the pits. I can’t remember what the results revealed in relation to the other two pits but the pit I was working on was thought that there might be a collapsed wall which could be covering some Mesolithic archaeology.

Child labor at Col de le Rocque

Child labor at Col de le Rocque

By the end of the day there it was hoped and seemed to be some indication that there may be a collapsed wall in the pit due to the amount of rock. There was a lot of granite rock in the pit, some of which was quite lose and seemed like rubble. However there were other bits that seemed to be too big to be rubble. After continuing to excavate the pit the next morning it became clear that we had come down onto bed rock rather than a collapsed wall. Though disappointing from an archaeological perspective it provided a better understanding of the geophysics survey results of the site.

Though TP 9 did not have any features and came down on bedrock there were a lot of flint objects which came out of the first 6 inches of topsoil.

Not TP 9 but an example of bed rock from another trench. I can't remember which number this pit is. For some reason I don't have a picture from TP 9.

Not TP 9 but an example of bed rock from another trench. I can’t remember which number this pit is. For some reason I don’t have a picture from TP 9.

I can’t remember the numbers of the other pits in the field. One of them had a modern feature which was dug into it. The other pit which I think was TP 8 also came down onto bed rock but had a bevelled stone tool (I think that was how it was referred to). I can’t remember the specific significance of this as I am not a lithics specialist but it was a very beautiful object to come out of a pit which seemed to be very hard to dig and other than this tool not very rewarding.

DSC00218

Today also had the End of Dig Party. The dig wasn’t ending till Friday 26th July and everyone was leaving on 27th July. It was decided to have the end of dig party on this day so people weren’t very hung over and tired on the day which a lot of recording and packing up of the excavation sites was required. The party was a lot of fun and there was a very delicious meal and lots of crazy dancing at Flight Club. Some of which involved one team member being spun around in a shopping trolley.

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25th July-Day 13

Continuing work at Col de le Rocque revealing that the possible rubble was definitely granite bedrock. Cleaning up the pit for recording was quite arduous due to conditions and it seeming that every time dirt and bits of grass were removed more would appear. The photo and section drawing should not have taken me as long as it did as these were some of the excavations techniques which I was a little hazy on. I remember photographing pits/trenches/sections and sometimes drawing quite complicated sections but I couldn’t necessarily remember how to.

 

26th July-Day 14

pop up museum

pop up museum

 

The last day of the project started with me back filling a couple of pits at Col de le Rocque before going to work in the pop up museum nearby. I volunteered for this which I regret as I would have much rather been excavating/backfilling/recording. I did get some great photos on the walk to the museum but I spent most of my time reading a book about mammoths (as it turned out a very interesting book) as not that many people turned up. When there were people I tried to give as much information about the project as possible but I think I may have given some confusing info as I didn’t present enough of a general over view of the work and period being looked into.

Model of Neanderthal skull

Model of Neanderthal skull

 

The evening after work was very enjoyable. The whole team went to a site called La Houge Bie. This has a prehistoric tomb, a medieval church and a World War II German prison camp. I forgot to take my camera with me so don’t have any pictures from here. This is an interesting site and somewhere else I would like to find out more about.

 

27th July-Day 15

The day when most people were going to be making the journey home. The morning was spent packing up tents and cleaning up the site and area we were staying.

I was getting a flight in the late afternoon. I went down to the sand dunes near the area we were staying with a few other people. After two weeks of almost constant sunshine this was the day it decided to rain. The walk to the airport was not too much fun though I was glad that I had decided to wear all my water proofs for the walk. The rain seemed to follow me to London where there was thunder and lightning as well. Though I am pretty sure the rain was covering most of England. Apart from a slight delay to my flight the journey home was largely uneventful.

It is a shame that it had to come to an end. The past two weeks have been some of the fun days I have had in the past few years.

I am still not a fan of Abba…

Jersey

Expanding on my short trip to Northern Ireland, I will be doing some more travelling this summer as well as some archaeological field work.

For the last two weeks in July I will be going to Jersey to help work The Ice Age Island Project. This is thanks to my friends Cat Cooper (who also has a blog which you can find on my links page) and Sam Griffiths (I think Sam has a blog as well but I don’t know the address). From what I understand the project involves studying the archaeological sites and artefacts, geological features and natural formations to gain a better understanding of the Ice Age period which affected Jersey and Europe on a whole. This work is being done so that in understanding this period of climate change we can better understand how it shaped North West Europe.

The link below will better explain the project:

http://iceageisland.wordpress.com/

If I can I will try to do some Jersey archaeology related entries while I am away.

My other bit of travelling will involve going to South America. That is not for any archaeological work it is purely travelling for the fun of travelling. This does not mean I am not terrified as well as excited about the trip.

Getting back into yoga

Before I get into yoga which is the main topic of this post I think I should mention that I was anemic for most of this year so far which I hadn’t realised till I had a blood test a few weeks ago on the 19th June. I needed to have an iron infusion which was scheduled for Wednesday 3rd July to stop me being anemic. Think the anemia may have been a factor in why I have been feeling pretty low for the past few months, though there are definitely other reasons but I have no desire to write about them in a blog.

So to yoga. I have been a bit nervy about trying yoga in a similar way to being a bit tentative about running. Running involves a lot of impact and jolting of the insides, which I don’t want to do too much or too severely after major surgery to my insides. Yoga can involve a lot of twisting and turning and work your core quite hard. While I have no doubt that yoga is a good thing and will be a good thing for me in the long term I am still a little hesitant of it. That is the reason it has taken me a while to get back into practicing it and also feeling a bit unmotivated has led to me not feeling inclined to practice it every morning so far.  I have been doing it sporadically since the last week of June.

I am going to use some yoga terms or at least terms which are in my few yoga books. I will include pictures to show what I am talking about where an explanation doesn’t make it clear what I am talking about. I am sure to anyone who knows about yoga this will probably come across as amateurish, naive or misinformed.

I am not doing all the positions that I used to do in my daily yoga routine. I have not attempted The Bow and Arrow of Joy (see pictures below), it’s kind of hard to describe that one. It involves lying on your front and holding onto your ankles, I hope that describes it, at least the picture shows what it looks like. I used to enjoy that one despite it looking uncomfortable.

 

 

yoga_0004 yoga_0002

 

I have not attempted Stillness With The Sky (shoulder stand) either (pictures below). I really like this position, well I pretty much like every yoga position I have ever attempted from what I can remember. Shoulder stands are quite tricky and as with the Bow and Arrow of Joy I will build up to this position as I really don’t fancy doing any damage to myself.

 

 

yoga_0001 yoga_0003

 

 

There are postures which you do after The Longbow and shoulder stands to stretch or work the body in an opposite way to the initial positions but I have not attempted them either, even though some of them aren’t quite as tricky as the first position. I hope that makes sense. For example, a shoulder stand closes/squashes your throat (you are still able to breath) so after you do a shoulder stand you do a posture to open up your throat.

I was quite rusty when it came to sun salutations. It is such a long time since I have done them that they don’t always flow as much as they should do really. Sun salutations are when several poses are linked together to flow from one to the other.

The positions that I have attempted have all gone well. I noticed in part of Kindness from the West that my tummy felt a little tight leaning forward, while doing the part of the posture referred to as the diamond wheel fold (see picture below). While sitting crossed legged, you clasp your hands behind your back with the palms facing each other and lean forward for part of the posture.

 

yoga_0005

 

I felt a little pain with part of the King of Patience posture, during  the King of Fishes (see picture below). It was more that I am still not very flexible so I should ease my way into that one.

 

yoga_0006

 

I need to work on my breathing as well. I like to think that I am often quite a patient person though I think this might not be the case in the future and I do lose my patience sometimes and do or say stupid things. In terms of breathing and yoga I have not always been very patient. Breathing is an important part of yoga and I normally don’t focus on my breathing as much as I should do which is not helpful in the short term or long term. I am better at focusing on breathing in a class. If I focused more on my breathing I think my postures would probably improve and the other benefits from yoga would be better.

Also I think I should add that I do enjoy practicing yoga whether it is on my own or with other people in a class. I don’t do it to impress anyone or because someone else does it. I first started it after meningitis messed up my body and mind a bit and I thought yoga would help.

I am no expert in yoga, I am very far from it. Don’t take what I say as gospel, though I doubt anyone does. As I think I said in a previous past most of what I talk about concerning yoga is largely from memory and mine is not always very reliable.

Explaining Cricket

I am not sure how many people will find this amusing, but I like it. If you don’t like cricket don’t bother reading any further. I was reminded of this joke when some friends I made in Northern Island asked me about cricket, they are from America.   

 

You have two sides; a team that’s in and a team that’s out.

Two men in the team that’s in go out and when one of the men who’s in is out; the next man goes in until he’s out.

When they are all out; the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in; the men who are out are trying to get him out; and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decided when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have been out; and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

 

A wonderful way to explain the great of cricket.

Travel Insurance

Getting travel insurance when you have or have suffered from IBD is not easy. It is even trickier when you had a few issues after an operation. Even though I feel better than any time since 2010 insurance companies are still not too happy about the problems I had after one of my surgeries. Bowel obstructions are not fun things to experience and it is even more annoying that I only had them due to my body not liking the temporary stoma but that doesn’t make a difference.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK have some information sheets about insurance and travel and various other issues you may come across suffering from IBD.

http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/content/services/infosheets.asp

I got my travel insurance with ‘Good To Go Insurance’ it was pretty good if a little pricey but I have had major surgery in the last year and been very ill for two years.

My advice regarding travel insurance would be if you are in a similar situation to me regarding having had surgery it is probably best to wait at least a year before you go anywhere you would need insurance for travelling to. I was a bit rash in planning a trip which requires travel insurance. I feel I have had a pretty crap few years and someone invited me on a trip to South America and I still have some free time to take advantage of so I thought I would go for it.

Hopefully I won’t need the insurance but it is better to be safe rather than sorry. I am going to be travelling somewhere which often has warnings about food poisoning and digestion issues so having insurance cover which will help in the event of any digestive problems will be helpful. Myself and anyone else who has had IBD are at a higher risk than most other people of getting digestive issues like food poisoning so it is good to get insurance cover which covers problems like food poisoning.

Travelling is fun, though I am a bit scared about my trip to South America and insurance companies are very annoying.