April Chaos

I’m sitting in the house in Bournemouth watching Grand Designs and feeling a slight twinge of guilt- I should be writing downtime for silly roleplaying games but I left all my notes in university this afternoon. So, I’m writing this instead as it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I think that is in part because life has been a little chaotic lately.

This time last month I’d been back from Dartmoor for a little while and the next four weeks all sort of blur together. Easter and the campus shutdown, plus my birthday and going to Sheffield combined to make everything a bit disjointed. I also had a lot of paid work on my plate which meant that actual progress on the PhD has felt a bit slow. I guess one slow month isn’t a problem but I really need to make sure I get back on top of things. The best way for me to do this is to be viciously well organised and plan all of my time (at least my time in Bournemouth, anyways), so if you follow me on twitter then I apologise for the amount of boring self motivational tweets that are bound to follow from this.

It’s been a good month of chaos though. Easter weekend was good fun- we went to Winchester for the day and went to the Cathedral, the Castle (and saw the round table), the City Mill and walked along the riverbank and laughed at the ducks. We also had some good long walks on the Common in Southampton.

The week after I went to Sheffield for Geoarchaeology 09. The conference was very good; some great papers but some odd ones too. It was particularly good to get to go along to a public lecture about Earthquakes in Antiquity- Pythia over her vent at Delphi hallucinating. There weren’t any micromorphologists there for a start, or if they were they weren’t giving papers. There was also a lot about geomorphology and predictive modelling for site location and CRM. I’m not going to start getting into the modelling debate here and now- better people than me have been there and done it. Suffice to say, I can see in tricky CRM environments it might be a useful heuristic tool, but even the very best model is going to tell you what you already know, and so be full of inherited biases that you can’t account for. In essence, they’re tautologies.

I did meet quite a few people doing peat-related things though, and met some research students. I hate going to conferences on my own, but I was brave and networked, and what do you know, I think it might pay off! There are people out there who know far more than I ever possibly could about peat chemistry, and the good news is they’re enthusiastic about my work, and willing to lend what help they can. Hurrah!

I got back very late Friday/ early Saturday the 18th and went to bed then was up early organising a secret trip to be pampered for a friend of mine before a triple-joint birthday BBQ in the afternoon. We then went out and danced our socks off at the dinge! I was back in uni for just a couple of days then on Wednesday 22nd we went to Baraca for yummy Turkish feasts as another joint birthday (everyone’s birthday seems to be from the 19th to 30th April!), before getting the last train home.

Matt has been sneakily organising things for my birthday for a while now and I knew I had to have time off, but nothing else. I am a curiosity monster and it’s been driving me crazy, knowing there is a plan but not knowing what. I rather suspect he’s enjoyed winding me up as much as he enjoyed surprising me! I was woken rather early with breakfast and presented with train tickets and whisked off to Bath for the day. I’ve never been before, despite all of the history, archaeology, architecture and literary connections it has. We had a great day exploring- there are so many good jewellery and boutique clothes shops! We also went to the Roman Baths, the Abbey and of course the Royal Crescent and Circus. It was a lovely day and we had a great meal of proper Italian pizza (cooked in a proper ‘forno a legna’). We also had amazing cakes from the tea rooms on the bridge and a nice walk by the river, complete with nesting swans, and, once the sun went in, bats skimming over the waters of the Avon eating all the midges. There were also ducks enjoying a Roman Spa (!) having flown in to the open area of the large bath. There are pictures of all of our adventures waiting for me to upload at home, so expect a monster flickr update over the weekend.

Friday was a day just for us with lovely food at home and a nice walk to go questing for it all. Saturday saw the biggest surprise. First of all Cas arrived out of the blue, which would have been amazing enough on it’s own, but then I was taken out for an amazing meal with 24 of our friends, some of whom travelled a long way to be there! I am very very lucky to have such amazing friends.

So, I’m back in uni now, feet firmly on the ground and trying to wrap up the last of my reporting on my case study sites and get the last of the Dartmoor soils processed before I go and gather a lot more samples from the Somerset Levels in a fortnight. I really need to start writing up as well. I have an internal conference next week which is a nice friendly place to try out a paper, so there is that to write, and Greenham stuff continues apace!

On the exercises front I’m stuck at just over 12st still but determined to bike and swim more as I think it’s this that will shift it. That and not eating quite so much, but hey, it was my birthday!

Thanks to everyone who came out/ kept quiet/ helped out and made my birthday one of the best ever! Thanks more than I can ever say to Matt, who may be reluctant to organise something like that again, given what a monster I was in the week before hand, wanting to know what was going on!

Oh, and on a final note, just seen this thanks to @adrianmurdoch on twitter, and very pretty it is too!

Procrastination?

I have been putting off blogging for ages, and I can’t quite pin my finger on why. Partly, I think because I don’t feel I have much to say (but then I look at the last month or so and realise loads has happened), but more I think because I don’t feel like there is room to stop and think about what to say, at the moment.

I think that I’m a bit scared- I have 9 months (!) left.

I have now finished all of the geophysics I planned to do.

I have 2 lots of ground truthing to do, and a whole load of lab work.

I need to report on my last case study, write an excavation report and properly get to grips with the really cool things my GPR software can actually do.

And I need to write it all up….

The last month was very, very busy and up until going on fieldwork a fortnight ago I was busy until late at night most days. The immediate pressure has dropped off now though, and I while a bit of a rest is good I can feel momentum slipping….

I think not blogging has been about hiding from the big scary tasks; writing here always makes me consider the bigger picture.

So, my question for the day:

Do I sit and do some planning (serious timetabling of research and resources) for the rest of the day/ tomorrow…

… or is that procrastination?

Or is it a bigger procrastination to sit and scrabble away at all of the little jobs on the never ending to-do list, studiously ignoring the big pile at the centre?

In other news:

Driving lessons have commenced. I am not as awful as I thought I would be, but it’s hard!

Birthday is later this month and my other half is up to something sneaky. This is not good. Anyone who knows me knows what a curiosity monster I am. I have to keep working hard at not asking questions of him or friends that I am certain are in on the plan.

I still have not got below 12st and am getting a little frustrated with it all… but I’ve not been biking as much as I should so I know what I need to do…

Neko, out, somewhat discombobulated