One of the difficult decisions to be made when starting a blog is what to call it. I thought I had some inspired ideas but when it came to getting the url it appeared others had had the same idea. So when I named this blog Poppy’s Style I was not only trying to make it personal to me and therefore hopefully more unique, but also ‘style’ was used to be all encompassing regarding my style of doing things as well as my fashion style. I want to take the opportunity in this blog to talk about all things I have done, dream to do and even things I have questioned doing…in addition to my passion for fashion.
After turning 40 last year I think I went through one of those ‘oh my goodness I haven’t achieved anything with my life’ moments. Yes I know I have 2 brilliant children and a fabulous man but what about my achievements as an individual? As I looked back all the way to starting secondary school (middle school age for US readers) certain themes emerged. I’ve always been driven to do my best, never doubting my academic abilities, but I get bored easily and need variety. In my career, before my current role, I’ve never stayed with a company for more than 2 years – my resume looks awful due to the number of companies listed on there…it took me a while to realize the grass is never greener and actually the corporate life just isn’t for me. I tried to stick with it as I was driven to keep getting the higher salary, bigger office and better title but as often happens the added responsibility, hours etc. just didn’t make me happy especially with 2 little ones. I wanted to be ‘SuperMom’ but my heart wasn’t in it and my enthusiasm for work was dwindling which meant I actually wasn’t doing a very good job.
Sometimes I think I ‘failed’ in the corporate world and often wonder what career would have suited me better? I remember career counseling at school when I was in my early teens and I always dreamt of being a Doctor – a pediatrician actually, but maybe my fear of failures stopped me from pursuing it as only really smart people become Doctors no? So instead of medicine I decided to be a research scientist. In the UK it’s unfortunate that your University discipline is pretty much decided at 16 when you choose your A’level topics – or at least that’s how it was back in 1986. I was good at science and far more interested in it than any of the humanities and I actually loved wearing a lab coat and doing practicals – I loved numbers too which helps – I still get excited creating formulas in spreadsheets:) Anyway my A’levels were Biology, Chemistry and Physics and I ended up studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of St. Andrews.
I had a great experience at St. Andrews and long before Will and Kate ever made headlines I met MM there working in a bar together. I was 19 and he was 24 doing his PhD in Byzantine History. Twenty years on he’s still the love of my life, my best friend and my greatest cheer leader (he was the one that suggested I start blogging), and there are many stories along the way of how we have survived through thick and thin which I will no doubt divulge in later posts. Anyway the point is HE had a PhD – therefore I must get one!! Yes that was one of my main motivators for applying for my PhD – plus back in the early ’90s there were very few jobs to be had so being a student for another 4 years seemed like a better option than the dole.
Hence the title of this post – I studied potatoes for 4 years…the mind boggles that I managed to stick it out and complete my thesis when so many of my peers were abandoning their studies on far more interesting, relevant topics. “The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Bruising in Potatoes” is the title of my thesis – it was written in a tiny flat, with no central heating and various fungi growing in it (a Biochemist should be thrilled no?) on Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, on one of the first Apple Mac computers. My acknowledgments in my thesis thank my FIL who provided us with many dinners out when the bailiffs were knocking on our door. It was certainly an odd time – living in one of the most glamorous areas in London with zero money to our name.
Well I got my Doctorate and published a couple of papers but oddly enough the most important thing I learned in those 4 years was that I never wanted to see a test tube or a lab coat ever again – I was done with exploring potatoes – the only place I wanted to see them again was on a plate next to a piece of fish. An achievement of sorts but one that only led to more decisions – wrong and right – about how I should earn a living.
Photos show my thesis which sits in a display cabinet collecting dust.