In which I discuss the safest way to lose blood and it's proper replacement...
So I want to take a break today from PhD based ramblings to talk about giving blood. Did you know that 96% of people rely on the other 4% for blood donations?  Maybe you've not thought about it before or are a little worried about what it entails so I'll tell you now that it mostly involves biscuits, drinking and sitting down. Easy eh?
If you think you're afraid of needles - decide to give it a go anyway. If you actually have trypanophobia - you might be able to solve that by trying to go along as well (habituation) or there are other options such as hypnosis and local anaesthetic. 
Make sure to check that you can give blood at www.blood.org.uk.  Then arrange an appointment. Luckily they now have this newfangled web service which makes everything easier and will even send reminders to your phone :)  If you're in the Manchester area we even have a Donor Centre on Plymouth Grove just behind the MRI hospital. 
Before you actually turn up to donate you should make sure to eat (I go for a Meatball Marinara usually) and drink plenty of fluids. You should also fill out a donor form if possible to speed everything up.
At The Donation
You will be offered another drink by the staff and have to fill out your donor health form if you haven't already. Once they've checked through this you go into an interview room where the nurse will double check you know your own address and DoB before testing your blood for iron. This is a small pinprick on the finger which they drop into a vial of liquid at a certain density. If the blood sinks you have enough iron to donate!
It doesn't really hurt, just a brief shock. 
If you're worried about this or other needles I suggest looking away as they do it (it's what I do) as anticipation is worse than the actual thing.
After they've signed you off as fit to give blood you normally have to wait for a few minutes during which you are encouraged to eat more biscuits (I favour the custard cream) and drink. They also have a large selection of magazines but I only ever read Total Film or Empire while waiting because movies!
Then they'll sit you down on one of their cool blood donation chairs and put you into a relaxing horizontal position.
Once they've found a vein they'll put the needle in (again easier if you look away) and take a small sample for testing. Then you wait for around 470 ml of blood to pump into a bag. This usually takes between 5 - 10 minutes. Once you're done they put a plaster on your arm and throw more drinks and biscuits at you. Usually the post-donation selection is better. They normally have at least two flavours of CLUB biscuits :D
Donation complete you get an "I gave blood today" sticker, a proverbial pat on the back and the instruction to drink lots of fluid to replace the blood you've donated. So without further ado - To Tea!
What's the best way to replace that fluid? Why tea of course!* It also gave me the perfect opportunity to try out my new teapot :D
This week's tea is the loose leaf Royal Blend tea from Whittard.  It benefits from a shorter brew (3 minutes) as otherwise the strong flavour of tea will overpower the delicate hints of spice. It can be drunk both with or without milk and I've found it equally enjoyable both ways. It gets bonus points for going a lovely brown colour with milk:
It's a delicious tea and it falls between your standard brew and Earl Grey. It has a little something different about it while not being as fragrant as Earl Grey. It seems to work equally well as a morning cuppa or as an evening brew to tide you over 'til home-time :)
Always remember to contact the National Blood Service if you feel ill following a donation as soon as possible.
*I am not a doctor so this may not be correct. I simply love tea though!
P.S. Do something amazing: Give Blood!
 Today, I am a less cool version of Berrrttmerrn, 2013. Inside Evie's Brain. [blog] Available at: http://insideeviesbrain.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/today-i-am-a-less-cool-version-of-berrrttmerrn/ [Accessed October 24 2013]
 Sokolowski, C. J. et al., 2010. Needle Phobia: Etiology, Adverse Consequences, and Patient Management. Dental Clinics of North America, 54(4), p.731-4. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cden.2010.06.012
 Session Searcher, 2013. Give Blood. [online] Available at: http://www.blood.co.uk/SessionSearcher/Search.aspx [Accessed October 24 2013]
 NHS, 2013. Plymouth Grove Donor Centre. [online] Available at: http://www.blood.co.uk/platelets/pdf/NationalBloodService-HeartBranded-PlymouthGrove-Manchester_col.pdf [Accessed October 24 2013]
 NHS Blood Donor Chair, 2012. National Innovation Centre. [online] Available at: http://showcase.nic.nhs.uk/show/nhs-blood-donor-chair [Accessed October 24 2013]
 Jacob's CLUB Biscuit Bars, 2010. Chocolate Mission. [online] Available at: http://www.chocolatemission.net/2010/07/july-20th-jacobs-club-biscuit-bars.html [Accessed October 24 2013]
 Royal Blend Tea Caddy, 2013. Whittard. [online] Available at: http://www.whittard.co.uk/tea/type/black-tea/royal-blend-tea/royal-blend-black-tea-caddy.htm [Accessed October 24 2013]