Week One: leavetakings

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#project52 Week 1: Packing

Today M left for the UK after almost three glorious weeks of time together, spent mainly cooking, gaming and talking.

He packed this morning, making a big dent in my bookshelves reclaiming stuff I’d borrowed over the last 12 months. I’m just back from escorting him to the airport and he’s just landed in a wet and rainy Southampton. I am really hoping a dodgy window frame in our living room there has held up against the stormy weather.

Meanwhile in Groningen, I caught myself almost making two cups of tea when I got home, the stars are out and so was the thinnest sliver of a crescent moon.

This next six months is going to be quite tough I think, even more so without him here. But I love my job, and this is how it has to be, for now at least. I just wish it didn’t feel like I was missing my best half.

Reflecting on 2013

I said this time last year that this was a scary year, and that I was determined to meet it head on. That worked pretty well until the summer, when a combination of things (but mostly looming end of contract nerves) sent me into a bit of a downspiral, where, true to form, I stopped writing and posting pictures and mostly hid under a rock.

I am doing something about it all though. I’m just not going to talk about it too much here. But I do want to show you some of the awesome things that the second half of 2013 held for me, because it wasn’t all bad, not by a very long way.

My last #project52 post was week 35, where I talked a bit about the deep funk I was in, and about failing joyously. So that leaves me 17 weeks to find pictures for, if I have them…

 

Week 36: I went to EAA in Pilsen. Tried to organise a tweet-up and mostly failed, but got to go to some wonderful sessions, tweeted a lot, and had brilliant wide ranging discussions over a number of great dinners with colleagues. I also got to go on a whistle-stop tour of Prague, which was brilliant and I want to go back.

Week 36 - Gargoyles at Prague Castle

Week 36 – Gargoyles at Prague

 

In week 37 my brother came to visit on his way to the UK. We kept a pact made earlier in the year and got matching tattoos…

You Can Never Go Home

Week 37a You Can Never Go Home

You Can Never Go Home

Week 37b You Can Never Go Home

It is both an irreverent reference to Grosse Pointe Blank and to our odd status as nomads…

In Week 38 me and the wonderful Esther mouse-proofed my kitchen so that they didn’t take over and build an empire while I was away on fieldwork:

week 38: None shall pass!

week 38: None shall pass!

Then I ran away on fieldwork, for almost two months. The first week (week 39) we were there I was ill (some sort of Georgian plague from my brother) and did a lot of preparation work and some EM surveys. On the ‘rest day’ we went hiking on the Timpa Cassano:

Week 39: Timpa San Lorenzo from the Timpa Cassano

Week 39: Timpa San Lorenzo from the Timpa Cassano

Week 40 saw a lot of caesium magnetometry in some very ploughed fields:

 

Week 40- ploughed fields and moody skies

Week 40- ploughed fields and moody skies

Week 41 saw colleagues from the BSR arrive to employ some techniques and expertise I don’t have myself!

Week 41: ERT with the BSR to investigate archaeology in lynchets

Week 41: ERT with the BSR to investigate archaeology in lynchets

By week 42 they had departed for another project on Sicily and me and my colleagues carried on with data collection in the foothills… some ceramic surveys, some geophysics and a trip to Matera!

Week 42: Matera, Sassi in the foreground, neolithic caves on the other side of the gorge

Week 42: Matera, Sassi in the foreground, neolithic caves on the other side of the gorge

 

In week 43 the whole team moved up into the mountains to continue our work. Matt celebrated his birthday without me in the UK, while I climbed a mountain on our ‘rest day’

Week 43: Top of the Falconara

Week 43: Top of the Falconara

 The tail end of week 44 saw me head to Rome to guest-lecture at the KNIR, a real privilege, and a lot of fun. I also got to go and visit the Via Appia, a first for me! I then headed back to the Netherlands.

Week 44: yours truly on the Via Appia, looking oddly foreshortened

Week 44: yours truly on the Via Appia, looking oddly foreshortened

Week 45 was a lot of frantic prep at work before heading to the UK in week 46, but I did find time to go and listen to cool music with Esther & Arno 🙂

Week 45: Folk music with Esther and Arno

Week 45: Folk music with Esther and Arno

Week 46 involved a trip to the UK, and my usual November weekend in a Castle playing silly games. This (of course) meant the hair needed to be rendered ‘interesting’ again, now fieldwork was over for the year:

Week 47: a return to winter plumage

Week 46: a return to winter plumage

 

Week 47 saw me still in the UK. Amongst other things, Matt and I went to Leavsden studios to see the Harry Potter exhibition. I would highly recommend it!

Week 47: Tig and Lola have a potions lesson

Week 47: Tig and Lola have a potions lesson

Week 48 involved a lot of running around, including a trip to Amsterdam, where I indulged my apple pie addiction:

Week 48: PIE!

Week 48: PIE!

Weeks 49 and 50 sadly don’t have pictures. It was too dark, cold and nasty to feel like doing much. In week 51, my beloved M arrived and so I got the Christmas tree ready:

Christmas tree with baleful dragon (scarf)

Christmas tree with baleful dragon (scarf)

Since then we have been mostly hanging out, baking, playing board games and making all of our new lego. There are still a couple of days to go before the end of week 52, so I’ll leave it there for now. I might try to have a hunt for pictures from weeks 49 and 50 – there might be some lurking that I have forgotten about.

So, be excellent to each other & have a great New Year.

Writing this post has made me realise I’ve not uploaded any of the autumn fieldwork pictures to Flickr yet, so I am off to set that going while Matt and I play board games x x

 

 

Escape to the country

#project52 Week 28

Categorically a good idea 🙂 #freshair #sunshine #nature #workgettingdone

Originally uploaded by girlwithtrowel.

Took myself off to a lake near the city today. I was a good plan- I only took work with me, so besides listen to nature that was the only thing to do. I edited something that’s been looming over me and made a huge plan for what I’m going to do from now until the middle of September. I also got a chunk of reading done, and sunburn. Yep, that’s right. It barely cracked 20 degrees today and I have crispy shoulders…

There is no try… the #ISAPafterparty and beyond

One of the things I said I needed to do regarding the #yearofyoda was to start being more proactive in my research career and putting my ideas and professional stance across more strongly and confidently. Boy, is it terrifying. If you follow my twitter feed you’ve probably seen an extended conversation that started at the ISAP biannual conference in Vienna last week, about a lot of serious (and not so serious) aspects of and issues in archaeological geophysics at the moment.

One of the things I agreed to do was post up a series of open documents laying out my ideas in a more expansive forum than twitter’s 140 characters, to try to keep the impetus generated at the conference going. I’ve just posted them up on an openly shared google docs folder that you can find here. I welcome any feedback and I’ll try to keep them updated with what everyone adds, keeping my own opinions clearly demarcated. It’s a little bit scary, all of this. In some ways, I don’t feel like I have the experience or the authority to set an agenda in this way. I’m hoping people I perceive to have more ‘gravitas’ will join in and I can at least act as a collecting point, a facilitator!

In other news, me and my brain have had a bit of an interesting time. Vienna was a good distraction from all that, and getting back in touch with other people working in geophysics was really good for some of the confidence issues I have been experiencing. Various things have gone a bit ‘wrong’ since getting back from Italy and I am determined this week to get back on track, to eat healthily, sleep properly and focus hard at work and on making plans for next year. This week’s photo is a little taste of life in the Netherlands. Here in Groningen we have ‘city sheep’ that belong to the city council and keep the verges and canal-sides trimmed. I was walking home from the shops yesterday to find them all penned in the park behind my house, getting their annual haircut!

#project52 week 23 City Sheep!

#project52 week 23 City Sheep!

Week 21.. no sign of summer

Despite eating copious amounts of crumpets, in an echo of an old pre-fieldwork good weather ritual, it remains grey, cold and windy. Not a lot else to report this week. Running hasn’t really been happening, work has, as has a lot of reading.

Week 21: Tea and Crumpets #project52

Week 21: Tea and Crumpets #project52

I’m out of crumpets now, and the weather still sucks. I leave for Vienna on Tuesday, and for a change, my presentation is pretty much finished ahead of time, so I’ll be spending tomorrow sorting out all of the project data and hoping I don’t delete/lose/destroy anything important….

Balance

This week has been good. I’ve finished a report that was starting to feel like a millstone (and at 31,000 words, was longer by a third than my MSc thesis, and more than a third of my PhD), and instead of feeling daunted by all the things that were waiting for ‘after’ I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into something new.

I’ve not been running since I got back from my trip to the UK the other weekend. This was for two reasons;  firstly I upset my knees on fieldwork. I don’t think it’s anything major, they were just having a grumble, and I didn’t have a chance to rest them ’till now. Secondly, I’ve spent most of this week floored by some weird bug that never quite turned into the death-flu the initial symptoms portended. It seems to be on it’s way out though, so I am going for a run tomorrow and I’ll see how I go.

In archaeology-related news, my paper got accepted for EAA this year, so I’ll be speaking in a session about geophysical methods for studying later prehistory, as well as co-chairing our round table on methods for investigating rural sites. It’s going to be a busy few days in Pilsen, but has anyone got any sight-seeing tips for someone who’s never been to the Czech Republic before? I’d like to cram some touristy things in while I am there.

On a similar note, I’m off to Vienna for ISAP at the end of the month and can’t wait to catch up with the usual suspects. I’ve never been to Vienna before (or Austria for that matter), so, same question really! What shouldn’t I miss? We have an excursion to Carnuntum that I am quite excited about, but what about in the city itself?

I’ve just realised that all that comes off as a bit of a humblebrag, sorry. I love that my job lets me do all of these things!

This week has been about re-learning balance. About an aspect of the ‘simply do’ motto I’d overlooked, or got a bit wrong. The flipside is: or do not. I had a mini crisis at the end of last week, about all kinds of daft stuff, and my mum and dad reminded me that it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Do, or Do Not. But don’t beat yourself up for the things you don’t do. Don’t get stuck in a spiral of negative feelings and introspection. Sometimes it’s OK to be shallow and just skim along the surface of things. It’s how I got through finishing the report: I stopped agonising over every last bit, because it’ll be read and edited by the project team. I stopped hating that I needed to do it, and found that once I was actually doing it, I enjoyed it. I’ve had the same revelation about running, but apparently it’s an epiphany I need to have many times over. I’m struggling to pick a photo this week. I had fun taking pictures of the May fair in the city centre this weekend, I fitted into my old boots (and still LOVE them), I was outraged at/covetous of pink Darth Vader t-shirts, and my brother rightly mocked me for instagramming filtered screen shots, but I think it has to be my first picture of the week, which was a letter from the ever-lovely BrightMeadow reminding me I have wonderful people in my life, and that they need to remember to be kind to themselves too.

Kindness #project52 week 20

Kindness #project52 week 20

 

So, be excellent to each other, and yourselves! I am continuing this theme by spending a chunk of tomorrow being uncharacteristically girly and doing moisturising-type-things… I may or may not post pictures of the no doubt hilarious state I’ll be in while face packs do their thing….

Snapshots

I owe you all at least three weeks of  #project52 pictures, and at some point a longer blog about fieldwork and life in general but it has been a really busy few weeks! So, without further ado, here is week 16:

 

#project52 week 16 Birthday Cake!

#project52 week 16 Birthday Cake!

I was home for 4 days before I went away to Italy again (this time with Matt, for my birthday) – I think I wrote the last blog just before I headed to Black and Bloom in Groningen to pick up the awesome cakes they made me to take to work. We have a tradition where you bring in cake for everyone on your birthday, but I was away for my actual birthday…. and besides, who really needs an excuse to eat brownies?!

Week 17 was spent in Italy with Matt. It was the first time he has ever been, and we had a wonderful time. At some point he’s going to put up the pictures he took, and I’ll post some here, or link to them, but he’s not had time to sort them out yet (over 9GB of images!!). I hardly took any; it was nice to be in Italy not working for a change, and I was too busy taking things in properly to be snapping all the time. I did get a few though, so my week 17 picture is of M at Herculaneum, which was amazing.

#project52 week17 Herculaneum

#project52 week17 Herculaneum

 

Week 18 contained many things. Again, I was only home for a few days before zipping off again, this time to the Uk for a wedding. It was also Queen’s day / the inauguration of the new Dutch King, and so I went for a wander in the heaving city centre with Olivia. Everything was either orange, or red, white and blue (or sometimes all 4). We went to a roof terrace overlooking the main square for cakes, and even the cakes had little orange crowns:

#project52 week 18 The last queen's day!

#project52 week 18 The last queen’s day!

I’ve been so busy for so long it has left me a bit run down, and earlier in the week, a bit blue. But today Inger (my friend and landlady), Steven and their wonderful daughter Oda arrived. How can anyone be sad with these three around?

#project52 week 19 Flying baby!

#project52 week 19 Flying baby!

So I’m off to cook us all a tasty (I hope) curry, and hopefully things will quieten down a bit and I can post more regularly. I don’t go away again until the 27th now, when I head to Vienna for ISAP….