No Promises

… Last year I made some resolutions and really struggled to live up to them. The year before, I only made one promise, and that was to try harder… I think the latter worked better for me: rather than setting targets and getting upset and demoralised when I don’t meet them, deciding to push myself out of the comfort zone was good. I’m going to take it a step further this year, and stop trying, and DO. My Dad and I have had a lot of useful conversations about just getting on with it. No matter how terrifying, boring, unpleasant. Get rid of the paralysis and just get on with it. Running, writing, big things and little things. This, for me, means a lot of staring the scary things in life down rather than hiding from them.

The scariest thing I have to do this year is sort out what my life will look like next year. My current role runs out at the end of February in 2014, and given the lead-times on developing and funding research projects, that really isn’t very far away. This isn’t something I can ignore until next September, and it isn’t as simple as applying for jobs.

It means:

getting some stuff published…

..which in turn entails writing some stuff, which has been an issue in this last year.

It means getting serious about a load of ideas I have and being brave enough to share them with people and try to turn them into working projects that can keep me gainfully employed.

It means trying to be less outwardly unsure of myself, and projecting the other side of me that apparently knows what she is doing.

It means supporting Matt too, either finding a way for him to move here (including a job) or perhaps making the decision to go back to the UK. This one is tough. I miss my friends, the ready availability of bacon and cheddar, and being near my parents. But I don’t miss the government, a lot of the culture or the mess that is Higher Education at the moment. prospects for a job are a heck of a lot stronger in Europe than they will be at ‘home’ for quite a while. And living somewhere else appeals to my innate curiosity. But I think we’ve agreed, that if at all possible, 2013 should be our last year of living apart. It’s just that the how of together hasn’t been decided yet, and can’t be for a while.

I also think it means I need to get serious about learning Dutch rather than cobbling along as I have been.

So, pretty big task then. I am trying hard not to be daunted and to think of all the amazing things I get to do on the way. I’ll be in Italy at least twice next year, in Belgium in a few weeks, in Vienna at the end of May. Hopefully this will be the year M finally gets to visit Italy. With any luck he’ll love it as much as I do.

Looking back, 2012 was fast- as I said in my previous post. A hell of a lot happened- babies were born, people got married, we said goodbye to my Granddad Thom in the beautiful western highlands of Scotland. In the last few months, some pretty awful things have happened too. A friend found out before Christmas that her cancer has come back and this time it is terminal. She is my age, and has two little boys and an amazing husband. This is one of those things that makes me want to punch the universe in the face. The much loved big brother of an old friend from home is missing, and has been since the end of November. His family are also heartbroken. These things all remind me that it really is the little things that matter. Time with the people you love is always time well spent, if you recognise it. Don’t be complacent. I think that is my ‘lesson’ from 2012.

The Year of Yoda

The Year of Yoda

It has been a very Star Wars Christmas for us, so my motto for next year is ‘Do. Or do not. There is no try’.

Lazy Sunday…

…not quite the same without someone to laze about with, or somewhere to go and have a Sunday  Roast…

I’m following my Dad’s advice and trying very hard to be nice to myself. I think it worked OK at work this week. I felt like I got a lot done. I had a hectic deadline on Tuesday- I needed to get things ready for a big cross-project meeting in Mainz. It turns out most of what I produced wasn’t needed, but it got me started on some things I needed to figure out and reminded me that I can do this stuff.


I managed to go running 3 times, and then went for a swim this morning, something I’ve been meaning to do for months. The pool was nice, and fairly nearby, but there doesn’t seem to be any lane swimming. Maybe it’s just not a Dutch thing? But if I’m trying to do a timed 1km lap-swim, I’d prefer not to be dodging small kids with floats. Perhaps it’ll be better early mornings? It’s a small pool attached to a community centre, so it isn’t open in the evenings. Right now I’m missing the pool in Bournemouth which was on my way home from University, so fitting a swim in was really really easy, and they almost always had lanes for people doing fitness or training rather than having ‘fun’. The rest of the weekend I’ve just been pottering about, but I did go on a photography mission in the park.


I like this statue a lot. There are quite a few in the park, and in the city more generally. I’m going to try to take pictures of them all, but this is my favourite, so she goes first. I like to think she is doing what I always do; looking up at the trees, trying to spot the birds that are constantly singing and chattering.

I love how busy the park is, that it gets used by so many different groups of people. Kids play, people run in groups or alone with and without music. People are skating, biking, kissing, eating, drinking. Groups of student sit and chat and do homework, kids gang up on their dads at football. I’ve seen people practising slack-rope, playing kubb, drumming, singing and playing guitar. I love how much green space there is in this city, and how much it all seems to be used and appreciated.


These are the fountains in the middle of the park, and right behind my house. They get switched on at 8am and let me know I should be getting out of bed! Earlier in the year when they turned off at night their sound was replaced by that of a LOT of amorous frogs! Right now there is a family of ducklings- two of them swam over to see me while I was taking this picture. I love having so much wildlife on my doorstep, even if I do complain sometimes. The complaining comes from the dyspraxia- one factor in my dyspraxia, which is apparently common but not always there, is that there are times when I find certain types of noise very hard to deal with. I can’t stand clocks that tick, for example (and I’ll hear a wristwatch if it is quiet enough and it will stop me sleeping). Other intermittent noises are also hard; birds, babies, people playing ball games. I’m also bad with unexpected loud noises, or even sudden increases in volume. The noise jump that happens in an ad break, for example, can totally reduce me to a four year old with my fingers in my ears yelling ‘Make it stop’, but only on a very bad day. I hadn’t noticed it so much before living alone. I’m not sure what it is about being here that has brought this stuff into sharp relief. Perhaps living with someone means there is always ambient noise that you aren’t in control of, so you get a bit immune? Or perhaps that stress etc means I have more ‘bad’ dyspraxia days, so I notice it more?

The reason I am obsessing over this is because there is a bird outside going peep…peep…peep…peeppeep… and people playing football below my windows, and a baby somewhere in the building yelling. Trigger-tastic.

But who could be mad at these little balls of fluff? Really?


Aahh… things are becoming peaceful again. In keeping with the principle of being gentle with myself, I’m not going to promise to write again next week, or to write something more intellectual or …well… yeah. No promises. Be excellent to each other, and yourselves




I’ve been hiding from this. From sitting down and thinking about the last year as whole, from trying to articulate how I feel about all the water under my bridges in the last twelve months. It hasn’t exactly been ‘uneventful’.

Last year, I made one resolution: “This year it is simple. I am going to try.” When I wrote that, only Matt (my partner), my best friend and my parents knew that I had been invited for an interview for a job in the Netherlands; that I might be leaving for at least 3 years. It was all too big to think about; I didn’t want to broadcast about it until I knew for sure if I was going or not. Dealing with the ‘maybe’ was hard enough.

I did it, I got the job. I really hadn’t expected to and was immediately overcome with fears: not about me and Matt (we are pretty rock solid, thank-you-very-much), but about the job itself; would I be ‘good enough’? The turn around was insane. I had about 5 weeks from finding out to starting, and that had to include passing my driving test. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was the end of February, and I had gone. My brother left the Netherlands for Georgia about a month before I arrived. We were both nervous about being even further away from home as our Dad had had a heart-scare just before Christmas. Our parents, as ever, bent over backwards to help us live our lives in ways that were meaningful to us, and told us to go, helped with money, helped with hand holding.

In March I got settled at work and hit the ground running for fieldwork in April, (and I fell in love with Italy all over again) which also saw my 30th birthday and Matt coming out to visit. May and June saw trips to Germany, for fun and for work. I got to know Berlin better. Mum came to stay, which was wonderful, and I made it back to the Uk for all of four days, which was confusing and hectic. I promised myself that if I could only come back for a short time, I’d be selfish about it next time. July was fieldwork, which was amazing. I went in a cave, drove for the first time since my test, and got to teach students, which I love. I took up running (!). August was crazy– My Granddad died, and I couldn’t make it home for the funeral, but Matt made it over for a long weekend. I wanted to be there for my Mum, but I knew dad was taking care of her. She’s been pretty poorly ever since (more on this later). Emma M was particularly awesome at this time; she’s been doing the ‘long distance life’ thing since she went away to uni at 17, and knows exactly how to remind me how much love and support I have around me. I’m never going to live up to her ability to dash about and somehow see everyone and be there when it matters, but I am trying!

I also had a horrible time with serious gastric pain and eventually was diagnosed with gallstones. It was Not Good ™, being in so much pain (and more than a bit scared), in a different country and somewhat on my own, but my friends & colleagues took good care of me, and people at home supported me by email and skype. I’m doing good and managing it by managing my diet;- so far, no attacks since November! This dragged on into September and I almost had to miss going to ISAP in Turkey, which was fascinating (the country) and stimulating (the conference). I came home in October for Matt’s birthday and the UKM weekender, so I missed the final fieldwork campaign. The last 6 weeks before coming back to the UK for an extended trip were filled with trying (and failing) to get reports and papers finished, and then speaking at two conferences about the work we’ve done since March (which went well).

December was all about being home. Matt and Cat threw a great ‘welcome home’ weekend for me and I’ve spent my time alternating between lurking at home getting as much Matt-time as possible, and trying to see all the people I haven’t yet. I know I’ll have missed people out. Mum seemed to have mostly gotten over the nasty stomach problems she’d been having since the summer, and then she got a serious infection in her bloodstream and ended up in hospital on Boxing Day. She is recovering slowly at home, but for the first time in a long time I didn’t see her on her birthday (New Years Eve) as she didn’t feel up to it. I went out in Southampton with the usual suspects; fun, but I’d much rather she’d been well enough. I’m heading over this weekend instead, and I am really hoping this horrid cold is gone and I don’t make her more poorly.


Me and Matt by the river in Groningen


So. Quite a year. I had a lot of adventures and got to do the job that I have been training for for more than 10 years, in two countries I adore. My new friends and colleagues are wonderful people and Groningen is an amazing city to live in. It’s also pushed me to the absolute limits of my social and intellectual anxieties. A combination of homesickness, anxiety and a creeping sort of paralysis have made as much of an impact on my recollection as all the good bits. I think I’m doing better; I’m ‘coping’ left right and centre, using every trick in the book. I think that all counts as ‘trying’. I could have just said ‘no thanks’ and taken the other job on offer; stayed in Southampton, safe and comfortable. I am glad I didn’t, but sometimes I hated myself for what I was doing to Matt especially. Other people I care about have not had a very good year; there have been break-ups, break-downs; a lot of people I love have been all kinds of broken. One good friend was almost deported because some idiot pen-pusher totally screwed up her visa application, twice. She had to appeal and it was heart-breaking to watch my country do that to someone. It was so hard not to physically be there for my Mum this summer.

Good things happened too- people graduated, got engaged, had babies and fell in love. I guess that’s the key isn’t it; life happens. You just have to keep trying.

I’ll post again tomorrow with some specific ideas and goals for 2012 but I think keeping trying sums it up.

Groningen 365 31- in which 3 important discoveries are made

Groningen 365 31

Originally uploaded by girlwithtrowel.

Groningen 365 Day 31

3 discoveries. 1) my local asian supermarket sells awesome fresh roti 2) hema sell kids dinosaur socks 3) kids socks fit me

Had a good day at work (sort of my day off but it was the best day to see the man from Leica). Been paid, think part of the blues last night was money stress but all fine now! Hoping to talk to my parents for the first time in ages tonight. Cleaning, reading & sit ups are also on the list.

Me and the little pink bike have ridden over 22km since Monday!


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

Basket Case

OK, so I know it is a sin beyond sins to write a meme as a blog post but I’m writing it for facebook anyways (sigh, I have had about a million of these lately- all variations on a theme but some of them are kinda fun; note to everyone on facebook: I’m only going to do these if they make me go ‘Ooh’ OK?). So, meme below. Possibly giving you more insight into my musical taste than any of you deserve.

In other news:

This year I suck at my resolutions. Those of you who do the twitter thing will know I’ve decided to get back onto the bandwagon with it all. Especially the fitness thing. I haven’t been backsliding, but I feel like I’ve been in much the same place since October last year, and I think that is to do with getting to the point where the fitness work needs to be stepped up to keep having an effect, and for various reasons I’ve been doing less, not more. So, back to swimming, biking and whining on twitter about sit ups then! Sorry if it bores y’all.

I’ve recently shifted a couple of external hurdles to the last few bits of fieldwork on my PhD so if things go to plan I’m back off to Dartmoor in a fortnight, and potentially Somerset soon after, but I’m not counting my chickens on that one ’till I have the site license in my sweaty little paws!

Here is the meme:

WHAT TO DO: 1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle. 2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer. 3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS. 4. Tag 10 friends. 5. Everyone tagged has to do the same thing. 6. Have Fun!



WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL? Release the Pressure (Leftfield)


WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? Roses for the Dead (Funeral for a Friend)

WHAT’S YOUR MOTTO? Armagideon Time (The Clash)



WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? Where do I begin (Chemical Brothers)

WHAT IS 2 + 2? Right Now (Korn)


WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? Android (Green Day)

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? The Lowest Trees Have Tops (John Dowland)



WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? I can see clearly now (Johnny Nash)


WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR Some Days Are Better Than Others (U2)


WHAT DO YOU WANT RIGHT NOW? My Hero (Foo Fighters)


WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? Basket Case (Green Day)

Well, that last one seems appropriate at least!

Positive resolutions and Rothko

Me and Jess at the Tate Modern

Originally uploaded by lilith_kayt.

It has been a busy couple of weeks. I’m doing well with the resolutions, despite falling off the bike earlier this week. I only really injured my pride, so I kept on going. Uni has been busy in a weird way; fieldwork had to be postponed while some kit got sent off to be fixed, so I’ve been doing lots of little jobs and planning how to do the bigger ones. I finally bit the bullet and went to see my supervisor for some advice about what order to tackle things in and what to do after I’m finished.

It looks like whatever happens with post-docs I’ll be needing a job for the first part of 2010 due to how and when the funding applications get done, so if anyone needs a geophysicist / GIS experienced archaeologist,  for the first six months of next year, let me know!

Yesterday I went to London with Cat and my folks to see the Rothkos at the Tate Modern. It was pretty mind blowing. There were colours so deep and rich I wanted to be wrapped up in them. I got to see two very good Anselm Kiefers, ( Lilith 1987-9 and Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom 2000) some very odd Cy Twombly’s (   from Natural History, Part I, Mushrooms, No. IV 1974) and the first piece of modern art I really understood and took meaning from, Matisse’s The Snail .

Henri Matisse The Snail 1953

Henri Matisse
The Snail 1953

I fell in love with it so much when I was ten I made my Dad get me a huge poster of it that graced my bedroom wall until I left home. We walked over the Millenium Bridge, and had lunch in the Restaurant on the 7th floor with spectacular views over the Thames. Looking back at St Paul’s’ from the Bridge was cool, but it was a cold day and I forgot my coat, so didn’t take a lot of pictures. Being in that part of London made me really want to explore the city properly. My London internal map is all based on tube stops and their immediate vicinity, or walks between places I know well like the V&A to the BM. I learned Rome by walking all over it, when I worked there in 2006, and want to know London like that as well, or at least the interesting parts of it.  It was a great day for many reasons, but not least of which was getting to see Jess, even just for a little while, and getting to catch up a bit about each others lives, travels, dreams and plans. It’s good that we still connect in so many ways, that despite our very different lives there are many points of intersection. We’ll see each other again soon, for longer, I promise Jess!

The first Greenham article is almost done and I’m very very pleased with it. It was really pulled together by Sasha, and wouldn’t have worked without her contributions about autoethnography. As soon as I can I’ll post a link but the world of archaeological journals moves slowly, so it might take a while. The British Archaeology piece will be available online soon, so I’ll link to that as well.

I have to go and be boring and domestic now, after a cultural extravaganza yesterday, so Neko out, for now…