Sunday, 28 October 2012

Mastering Life

This week in class we were set an assignment to write a short blog about a plant family we'd been assigned for the campus biodiversity blog. Our tutor was giving us a quick lesson about how to blog, and how to use the website, and asked us who, out of two classes worth of people present, had ever written a blog before: there were two of us.

And only one of us had an active blog - Bonjour, c'est moi.

I have to say, I was quite surprised - I thought out of a group of about 25 people, who all have some pretty niche interests, there'd be more being said about it, but it seemed not...! But *more importantly* it reminded me that I hadn't blogged at you all since I started my course almost a month ago. Not that active, eh? So once again, many apologies for that: I've been too busy loving, laughing and photographing in the real world to actually document it all for you here! Oops. But hopefully for those of you who are long overdue some contact from me this will fill you in a little until I can next pick up the phone or send you a well-deserved email.

This week was a really successful one - I got to wear my wellies on three separate occasions; and if truth be told, it may well increase as time goes by. Score. For those of you who know me, and know some of the prophetic words that have been spoken over me, you'll know this is a giant win, and right in my comfort zone! I love the wellies. 

As a general taste of what I'm up to, normally my week looks thusly:

am: stats, and a stats practical. This requires lots of coffee, and repression of awful memories from undergrad. If you wanna pray for me, pray for me then. Cheers.
pm: A visiting speaker comes to talk about anything or everything from the conservation realm. We're waiting for Graham to bring his mate Chris Packham in to chat to us about the potential for a glittering TV career in conservation. We're not holding out too much hope though...

My classmates at Kimmeridge bay
all day: Field trip! These have the potential to start at a horrifically early hour. This week I got up at 5:45, and nearly died. You might wanna pray on Tuesday mornings too...! But anyway, lots of good time to investigate different nature reserves around the country, identify some new stuff (new to us, not new to science, it's not that advanced yet...), and compete with others about how cool your wellies are, how big your camera is, and how magnifying your binoculars are. Sadly I lose at all of those things. I think I'm winning with impressions of Miranda though.

am: Professional and Research Skills - we pretend to be real  grown-up professionals and learn from the big dogs about how to write consultancy reports, learn about legislation we have to adhere to, and, in some odd cases, spend a couple of hours in the herbarium. Varied, but useful.
pm: a blessed afternoon off. Praise be to God. And by 'off' I mean, 'to catch up with assignments'...

A Scottish Harebell, from a plants practical
all day: Vegetative Survey and Assessment - we learn about plants! All the plants. All about the plants - how to identify them, what they're called, who they're related to, what their favourite tv programmes are, etc etc. It's actually one of my favourite days - and being able to sprout so many latin names is also a major ego boost for intelligence levels. I can chatter on about Caprifoliaceae until the cows come home, now. (Actually, that's a huge exaggeration, but it is the family I wrote my plant blog for, so I can chatter for 300 words, at least.)

Limpets. These have no backbone...
all day: Invertebrate Survey and Assessment - we learn about things with no backbone! [INSERT POLITICAL SATIRE HERE]. This week, that involved going and doing a kick-sample in a local stream, which itself involves sploshing around in wellies: ergo happy Emily.

Looks good, eh? All that practical stuff gives lots of time to get to know the other people on the course which is fab (they're all great, lots of fun), and there's also lots of opportunities to take photos of what we've found and what we're doing, which also pleases me greatly. In fact, one of our assignments is to keep a wildlife journal, so I'm hoping mine can be full to the rafters of photos of cool things I've found. Nature is pretty awesome, and there's a lot of great things out there to be seen and documented! 

The other major aspect of my week is my daily commute - about an hour each way from Oxford to Reading, with half an hour on the train, 15 minutes on a bus, a bit of a cycle and a bit of waiting around for the timetabled bits inbetween. I thought it would be really irksome but actually I'm really enjoying it, and love the people-watching, and overhearing hugely entertaining conversations between people, or on the phone. It's also fun if I end up getting the London Paddington train on a fieldtrip day, and am the only person wearing wellies rather than a business power-suit. I try to avoid that train if I can...

I also love that already there are people I see all the time - especially that there is one man who I noticed a few times rushing to get a train from Reading as I arrived, who had a particularly striking face and so caught my attention a few days in a row. Then, one day earlier this week, I got a slightly later train home than normal, and he was waiting at Oxford station to get a train back to Reading as I arrived home - turns out he was rushing for a train to Oxford. It's very pleasing to consider other people's lives overlapping with your own. There's a neatness in us swapping places each morning that I love: a city-balance that is restored :)

On this commute I've also been listening to Gungor's most-recent album a lot, which is excellent (especially in the mornings, as there's a song called Wake Up Sleeper, and one whose primary line is 'Let there be LIGHT', which is fitting for the 0744 train). My favourite song *at the moment* (goodness, as with all abums it changes almost with every listen) is this one: You Are the Beauty. My favourite bit is the musical interlude at the end. The recording of it is slightly more impacting musically, but I've put the live version so you can see just how awesome they are as musicians:
Anyway - if I can I'll try and blog a bit more regularly as I go through my masters, about the cool things I find, and the things that make me chortle. I've already got some ideas for some future posts, so there shouldn't be so much of a blog famine as there has been for the last month!

Hope you're all well, until next time, x

No comments:

Post a Comment