Carriacou 2015

Carriacou – the island surrounded by reefs

View of Hillsborough from the hospital in Belair

There are two public routes on and off the island. The Osprey ferry and the SVG flight. Now it seems to be an established fact that the ferry is a much more adventurous route meaning it is often a nausea inducing experience even for the more seasoned sea travellers. Anecdotally the trip to Carriacou is usually worse than the trip back. I managed to keep my stomach content down but it was touch and go for about half an hour.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts the island is relatively small, only 3 by 7 miles and with 8,000 inhabitants. There is very little tourism which is great if you want to experience an unspoilt and “original” Caribbean island but so so good for the locals who often struggle to make a living. The big cruise ships can’t even tie-in (or whatever the correct term is) at the island – as the name Carriacou actually means – the island surrounded by reefs. While I was there there was one big cruiser nearby but it had to anchor about a kilometre out from Hillsborough.

I found most people on the island very very friendly and hospitable and I hope to be back there in the future, enjoying their great island and helping out their four-legged critters at the same time.


Carriacou 2015

Appeal for donations for Carriacou Animal Hospital

Photo by CAH

What a great experience. Lots of memories and and a moderate skin tan that will disappear quite quickly in this Welsh winter.

Although there were a lot of nice relaxing moments on the beach there were also lots of animal care that we were involved with. The beautiful scenery of the island should not conceal the tremendous work Kathy, Shurlyn and all the people that are involved and help out with the Carriacou Animal Hospital (CAH).

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!This is why I would like to appeal for your help as the hospital is not government funded and relies only on charitable donations. One of the vets in the UK has opened a Just Giving page here:

All proceeds go to buying supplies for CAH. Alternatively you can also donate to the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) who organise volunteer work in projects round the world and provide help for various causes.

Carriacou 2015 Uncategorized

First impressions

Writing this at least a couple of days into my stay. The passport control people nearly didn’t let me in the country as they seem to pretend they didn’t know about Carriacou animal hospital and to top it off the donated medical supplies got seized by customs. With the great effort from Penny in Grenada we managed to get them back the following day which meant I missed the morning ferry to Carriacou.

Carriacou 2015

Setting off

Don’t think I have ever travelled with so much luggage. Besides my own stuff I will also bring over some consumables like surgical gloves, flea treatment and so on. Got some great plastic containers that are nice and waterproof.




Those 4 boxes above was how I got everything from the WVS. I was a little worried about how I am going to get all the luggage from the long term car park, on the bus and then on the terminal. Found a great solution as BA who I am flying with has early check in so I was able to check in all my luggage the day before (between 4pm and 10pm). Parked in the short term car park and plenty of trolleys about. No queues at check-in … brilliant 🙂
So tomorrow when I set of I don’t have to be at the airport 3h prior to flight but later. Also I just need to cary hand luggage from the long term car park.

Had a little walk round the North terminal … didn’t feel at all like a vagrant.


IT Veterinary medicine

Improving the chance you are reachable when on-call

Recently I have been on-call a lot – as a veterinary surgeon, of course. However the village I am staying in has very poor mobile reception, especially indoors so I have come up with a system to improve my chances that the clients can reach me when I am on call at home. I also do not have use of a land-line, but I do have a WiFi connection.

As often the case when staying in an area with a poor mobile signal the indicating bars can come and gome at will and I often end up with a nice stop sign that indicates I have absolutely nothing, zilch, nada of a mobile signal. Moments when this happens are impossible to predict. So how will clients be able to reach me if that happens?

I found a solution in FlyNumber and a separate voip provider. In my case Sip2Ssip however you can now use Fly Number as a voip provider as well. Not to be to technical, Fly Number provides you with a local phone number which you can use to redirect calls to a VOIP (voice Over IP) provider, which is a fancy abbreviation for a internet phone connection. This internet phone connection can be established for example on you PC, laptop or, even better, on you smartphone.


  • an account with Fly Number or any other phone number provider (however I found this one the best by far)
  • an account with a VOIP provider like Sip2Sip, Fly Number, Skype…
  • a WiFi signal with a working internet connection
  • smartphone

Basically I setup a new UK number (as this is where I live). I set the number up so that all calls get forwarded to an ITSP – I already had an account setup with Sip2Sip which FlyNumber recommended. I have a Samsung smartphone where I have installed Zopier and linked it to my Sip2Sip account. However after the recent JellyBean upgrade I seem to have got the phone to take incoming voip calls through Sip2Sip.
I am working at this current practice for 2 months so I went for the three month FlyNumber account but with no repeat subscriptions.
I also setup my phone to redirect all calls when I am unreachable to the FlyNumber I purchased.

So as long as I am logged onto the wifi in my accommodation – or anywhere else and if the mobile signal is lost, then my calls will go via voip to my mobile phone. Brilliant.

Update February 2015

I have been contacted by Fly Number about this post as they monitor any mention of their company on the net. They offered me three months credit if I put a link to them. Well as this was after I wrote the article and as I don’t get a lot of free stuff I said Yeah 🙂

Carriacou 2015

Chikungunya what? Is that a local chicken dish?

Sun, Siyang et al., 2013
The Chikungunya virus / Sun, Siyang et al., 2013

Soon after starting planning my volunteer trip to Carriacou I was given advice about vaccinations I would require. These were basically for rabies and tetanus. As I was tested and proven that I already had enough anti-bodies against tetanus (Clostridium tetani) all I had to do was to get my rabies shots. Great. Cashed out over £110 for this and thought this was it.

Then later I heard about this Chikungunya virus that was causing issues round the world but it was also prevalent in the Caribbean. Turns out this virus causes a quite nasty disease. OK, not exactly ebola grade badness but can still be lethal in extreme cases and can also cause severe joint pain that can linger for months and even a few years. And, you guessed it, absolutely no vaccine for it.

Want to know more? optimistic version and slightly less cheerful version

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Image reference

  • Sun, Siyang et al., 2013 “Structural Analyses at Pseudo Atomic Resolution of Chikungunya Virus and Antibodies Show Mechanisms of Neutralization.” Ed. Werner Kühlbrandt. eLife 2 (2013): e00435. PMC. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.
Carriacou 2015

Volunteering for the Worldwide Veterinary Service on the island of Carriacou

After months of preparation I will finally been taking a trip to the Caribbean island of Carriacou to do a few weeks of volunteer work for the Carriacou Animal Hospital (Facebook page here). The trip was coordinated in conjunction with the WVS (Worldwide Veterinary Service) who has offered me loads of support and guidance.

I have put over £1,000 towards the trip but the CAH, WVS and I are also looking for any charitable donations of veterinary medical supplies. Get in contact with WVS here: /

I have also created a JustGiving page where you can donate
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

carriacou-mapThe island has about half the population of Haverfordwest – the town in Wales where I currently live. The 8,000 inhabitants that live on the island that could fit into Pembrokeshire about 18 times are known to be very pleasant. Carriacou is renown to be the safest and the friendliest island in the Caribbean. Not sure if this has anything to do with the fact that they are big fans of rum and they have apparently over 100 rum shops.

The CAH, ran by Kathy, Shurlene and Hans, is very active in the welfare of pets on Carriacou and performs a lot of neutering and spaying as well as everyday animal healthcare services. I will hopefully be reporting to you on how it all goes when I get there. And getting there from good ol’ Pembrokeshire will not be that straightforward. First I will have to drive to Gatwick (near London), stay over there as the flight is an early morning one. Then there is the flight to Grenada but it first stops in St Lucia, all the time I will have to bear in mind that I have to end up in Grenada and not Granada – a town and province in Spain.

After that I have to, again, sleep over as the flight is to late for me to catch the ferry to get me from St George’s on Grenada to Hillsborough on Carriacou. There is a plane shuttle between the islands but I would be late for that as well (its also a little more pricier). I figure after a long-haul flight I would have been sick and tired of hearing the safety brief and the knee crunching legroom. After that I hope to be picked up at the airport to end at CAH.

That is the plan. Stay tuned 🙂

Veterinary medicine

RCVS keen on sharing your data

During my recent review of my RCVS membership information online I came upon the main form in which you can amend various details like your address, contact info, qualifications etc.

However then I came to the section “Third party use of data” with the text


The compulsory published information may be sold or supplied to third parties for non-statutory purposes (for example charitable or commercial use) and may be sent outside the European Economic Area.
If you do not agree to this, please tick the box…

Now this is making me feel a little suspicious. Not sure of this was there last year, possibly, but what business does the veterinary regulatory body have sharing my information in the first place. And what makes it worse is that NOT having your information shared is an OPT-OUT procedure.

This means that you have to tick that box in order to not have your information shared. If you forget to tick it then your data is free to be shared by the RCVS.

Like the RCVS does not have other matters that should make it think about its internal proceedings.

Naughty RCVS!!

Health and medicine Veterinary medicine

My latest cat bite

Not that I think I will be slowly morphing into a human-feline mutant but I was surprised how badly I responded to a recent cat bite I sustained during my locuming in in a small animal practice in Blackpool. Since I graduated from the vet school in 1998 I have had a few bites and lots of scratches from my dearest feline friends but I have never had to seek medical help before.

This cat was a bit of a psycho as it was quite happy looking and content when the owner brought it into the consult room. Besides the fact that it was enormous and very very fat I had no warning what was to happen during the consult. After the owner and I opened the carrier door I even patted the cat gently and he was absolutely fine with it. The facial expression was showing slight worry (over what the hell is going to happen to him at the vet’s) but still relative sedateness.

Because of the enormous size of the cat we had to open up the carrier and before that we had to undo all the clips that held the top and that was quite a loud undertaking. Just as we removed the top the cats suddenly lunged forward – as it was in the direction of my right hand, took a good bite in it and just as quickly lunged back in. It all happeed so quickly even the bite wound took quite a few seconds before it started to bleed – see, even my hand was surprised 🙂

What I usually do after a bite is to do the usual initial disinfection by dousing the wound some surgical spirit – gritting teeth and growling un-recognisable rude words, preferably in Slovene, so no one around me understand me.

The next day I thought things were getting better so I decided to leave it only to start having problems in the evening. Luckily I already enquired with one of the nurses where the nearest A&E clinic is. In this case I went to the walk-in clinic in Blackpool.

Please look away if you are squeamish but this is what my hand looked like about 36 hours after the bite

about 36 hours after bite

can’t really see the swelling well but its there, trust me and the wound was suppurating quite nicely and very painful. Luckily the trip to the Whitegate walk-in centre resulted in me receiving antibiotics flucloxacillin that worked really well. But examples like this just show what doctors can get away with in regards to owner compliance compared to us vets. The treatment demanded me to take the capsule four times a day. And you were also not allowed to eat two hours before and one hour after taking the pill. Well, simple maths show you that was 12h of me not eating. I was usually awake for about 16 hours so I had to get my eatin’ done in those four hours throughout the day and still work at a very busy veterinary practice. Of course I couldn’t do that and I had to cheat a few times.

Luckily the medication still worked fine and this is my hand two days after start of treatment

about 48 hours after start of treatment


Veterinary medicine

New outlook

Not written here for a while so I will be brief:

  • Today was the last day at The Fenton Veterinary Practice – my employer for the last 5 years.
  • Starting my own business as a locum veterinary surgeon.
  • I incorporated my own limited company Pet Doc Martin
  • Created a new website
  • Created a Facebook page, LinkedIn pageTwitter page and VetSurgeon page
  • My first contract will take e to London. I will probably write more about it on the Pet Doc Martin website