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!

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