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mair
December 30th, 2009
02:05 pm
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Roundup 2009
"What will you do when you've finished your PhD?", people asked.
"I'll throw my computer out of the window and take up strawberry farming", I declared.

I finished.

"What will you do now?", they asked.
"I'm going to party like it's 1999!", I announced.

- o 0 o -

In June, I was staying on a farm in the Cévennes, picking strawberries for jam to be sold at the farm shop in the nearby town. Does that count?

In Sweden in August I darned every pair of trousers I'd brought, and broke three borrowed needles patching up my collapsing boots. (In Lincoln in October two guys in the market fixed them in 45 minutes for a fiver).

In 2008, I took up Scottish dancing and French conversation.
In 2009, I spoke French in France (and Syria!), and ceilidh danced in Shetland.

- o 0 o -

I started writing this on the first day of Advent - a Tuesday. Picture me sitting alone in a bunker on a hilltop on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (nb: not Sicily), with a mug of tea beside me, a ball of wool and some scraps of material at my feet. Behind me a musical corner houses a flute, recorder, guitar and an eclectic selection of music. I'm hugging a hot water bottle as the room isn't quite warm enough, and a BBC accent is reading John le Carré on the tape player. It's not strawberry season, but I've been gorse bashing and working with beautiful cows. I've been lucky enough to be welcomed here by Wildlife Trust staff, the bellringers and the newly formed craft club.
I left there at Christmas, but I plan to go back for some weeks next year.

- o 0 o -

I began this year in Co. Durham, having impulsively hopped off an Edinburgh-bound train with an unusual desire to get some work done. From Durham I travelled to Coleby, Lincoln, Southampton, Lincoln, Southampton, Dorset (Golden Gap), Ty Mawr (Wales), Totnes, Cleobury Mortimer (Shropshire), New Quay (Wales), Brecon, Morvern Penninsula (W. Scotland, via Inverness), Lincoln, Southampton, Leigh (Surrey), Lincoln and Coleby, Birmingham, Southampton, Polgooth (Cornwall), Damascus and Seydnaya (Syria), Baalbek, Brumanna, Bcharre (all Lebanon), Damascus and Mar Musa (Syria), Southampton, Helston (Cornwall), Bradley Stoke, Lincoln, Wray (Lancs), High Wray (Lake District), Beddgelert (Snowdonia), Vauxhall, Thuir (Perpignan, France), a farm in the Cévennes, Taizé (and Ameugny), Southampton, Vauxhall, Southampton, Lincoln, Voe (Shetland), Haroldswick (Unst, Shetland), Nyköping (Sweden), Junosuando (Swedish Lapland), Norderåsen (Sweden), Lesja (Norway), Leigh, Vauxhall (Meadow Road), Lincoln and Coleby, Hereford, Bradley Stoke, Southampton (Clare's), Bradley Stoke, Lincoln, Preston, Ty Mawr, Vauxhall, Brussels, Penzance, St Mary's (Scilly), Townshend (Cornwall), Bradley Stoke, Lincoln.

- o 0 o -

It's inevitable, in reflecting on the year, that my thoughts tend towards the end of the year. Events that seemed important months ago have faded. I can no longer muster aggression to chop down acres of brambles by merely thinking of my thesis. But also, seeds planted months ago have gradually come to fruition. For example - in April in Syria, I added "buy a flute" to my todo list. Now, in Scilly, I am playing my way through a book of Irish reels, as well as some other music borrowed from a local flautist for variety.

- o 0 o -

My goals for 2009 were to wake up before midday every day, and to visit all the counties of Britain that I didn't already know. I mostly managed the former but I have many places still to visit.

I'm not sure what my goals for 2010 should be. I've started a lot of sentences lately with "when I'm grown up, and have a house, and a dog... " (she's going to be a collie), so perhaps I should think about growing up and acquiring a lifestyle suited to a house and a dog. Not just yet, though...

- o 0 o -



Current Mood: amusedenthusiastic

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From:fluffle
Date:December 30th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
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I counted 64 places in that list (counting each of the Southampton,Lincoln etc separately). The travel companies must love you (even with advance tickets)!
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From:lionsphil
Date:December 30th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Oh good, you've reminded me that I've got a huge pile of thesis-faff to get back to in a few days. Grr.

I countered "what will you do when you've finished your PhD?" with "well, what's the standard academic progression from there?". Sitting around in a lab, trying to get attached to projects, and waiting for a lectureship opening that won't happen during a time of budget panic? Yeah, I'll pass. I may soon run out of ways to avoid the Real World.
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From:emperor
Date:December 31st, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
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Good to hear from you again :)
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From:struuth
Date:December 31st, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
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yay for an exciting year, and hopefully many more
From:ex_robhu
Date:January 1st, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
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Yay for blog posts :)

Whatever happened to your gypsy caravan?
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From:mair_aw
Date:January 9th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
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it's a bit damp and snowed on.
From:ex_robhu
Date:January 9th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
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You could rent it out... these things are popular.
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From:mair_aw
Date:January 9th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
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It needs work so it doesn't leak and I was planning to get it done (there is a guy who lives in the caravan place who is really good at woodwork) but then I'm never in the same place as it. So I thought I should sell it on eBay, but then I really should take pictures of all the dodgy bits first, but then I have to be there to take pictures ...
From:ex_robhu
Date:January 9th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
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You could ask someone who is there to do all that for you? Maybe ask the woodwork guy how much it'd cost to get it fixed and ask if he'd take photos?
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From:andrewducker
Date:January 9th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
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"I'll throw my computer out of the window and take up strawberry farming"
I read that to Julie, who hugged her computer and said that it wasn't its fault. I blame The Sims.
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From:mair_aw
Date:January 9th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
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In fact once I finished my computer went from being all about work that needed doing to being merely a way to communicate with nice people, make fun arrangements and post photos, so I stopped wanting to throw it out of the window.
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From:olithered
Date:January 30th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Congrats on the PhD!
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