Thursday, 22 July 2010

Ship side of the Sargasso

Woooooh I’m on a boat.... well, I’m not actually on a boat yet, but I will be in a few hours. 6 days at sea, but the weather looks as though it will hold and the seas will be kind to us (2-4 foot swells) so that’s all good. 6 days of ship food too mmmmmm.

Fairly uneventful week, lots of getting stuff ready for the cruise, lots of acid washing, lots of organising, and lots of emailing.

Went for a 45 minute kayak after work on Monday (fairly quickly!) which was good apart from when I a) thought I was sinking (once I got out to the sea, waves were breaking over me from all sorts of directions) and b) thought I was being chased by a shark. I just have to explain this. In my mind, employing logic and reasoning, I know that I’m not going to be chased by a shark whilst I’m in Ferry Reach. And, as one of my friends loves telling me, more people die every year in toaster-related deaths than get killed by sharks (I have no idea whether this is actually a true fact or not). BUT. This is what was landed last weekend in Bermuda, caught off Challenger Banks ~12 miles out to sea (NB. Only about an extra 4 miles out from where we were diving the day before!!). So, I’m sure you’ll understand, that I have an over-active imagination, and now I’m a little bit freaked out to swim in the reach on my own. I did do some swim sprints on Tuesday (mainly sprinting in case a shark was chasing me), but on Wednesday there were other people swimming too which was better. Had a little play paddle boarding too which was fun.

Only five days left on the island once we get off the ship :( sad times. But, having said that, I am super looking forward to seeing everyone when I get home. Also getting on the training in a big way when I can finally get back in a boat!

Things I am looking forward to at home:

- A double bed

- A duvet

- Being able to sleep without a really noisy fan or sweating

- Having a kitchen and being able to cook!

- The price of food........ nom nom nom

- Having my lovely little car back to drive around in

- Training

- Seeing all my friends and family

Things I will miss about BDA:

- Rolling downstairs to work (takes about 2 minutes if I walk slowly)

- The temperature (but NOT the humidity)

- The sunshine (~11 hours of it a day)

- The fact that the sea is currently 28.5C SO WARM!!! And its beautiful blue colour

- Friends here

- Running along a sea cliff (although I’ve swapped running for swimming now coz it’s too hot to run!)

- Going out on the ship

- Having a bar on station (although I think my liver will be happy about this fact)

I guess on the up side, I’ll be back here for a month in October/November teaching, so I’ll get to see people before too long :) I have got some pretty epic weeks ahead of me before then though so we’ll have to see how that all unfolds. For now though?? Time to go float around in the Sargasso Sea on a boat. Back in time for Cup Match weekend WHOOOOP!!


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Jolly good July

Another week gone by. Although I have to say, this one has been a little more normal compared to the craziness of last week. Sunday was spent generally monging around, not really doing much, and that sort of set the tone for the rest of the week really. Pretty quiet during the week. Training started off really well with a 10km run. I took minicam with me, to do a picture document of where I run out here, to send to the girls back home. Unfortunately it ran out half way through the run, but it’s the same route back so it doesn’t really matter. Comedy value. I like to think so anyway.

Tuesday was an awesome day. Went out for the day on the SSV Corwith Cramer with 4 other staff/interns from BIOS, to see the work that they have been doing on investigating plastic accumulation and dispersal in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre. I love sailing, always have done, and so was thrilled to rock up and discover it’s a lovely, square rigged boat (kind of like a mini tall ship I guess). All the people on board were graduates o their semester at sea programme that they run for U.S Undergraduates, and everyone gets involved equally in the scientific sampling and processing and the physical sailing of the boat. One of my group was pretty seasick, poor girl seeing as it was her birthday too, and another one was pretty knocked out by the seasickness tablets that she took. A small selection of photos from the day are here. I got as involved as I could, so that pretty much counted as my days exercise :) hauling on ropes n fun stuff like that.

Haven’t been able to do that much training this week after that which sucks. Tried playing ultimate Frisbee again on Wednesday, and within about 5 minutes was fairly crippled by the return of the dreaded shin-splints. Ouch. So I went for a quick swim instead (proper swim, proper swimming costume and goggles rather than just fannying around in a bikini), but that was also fairly short-lived due to the number of jellyfish in the water. Fortunately I didn’t get stung by any, but getting a faceful of jellyfish a couple of times was enough for me.

Got some exciting/scary news this week though. My application for funding was successful to go to a conference in Hawaii in September which I am super psyched for, and have also been offered a three week teaching position back in Bermuda in October/November. I am super scared about this, just generally as I’ll be co-teaching a basic graduate level course, but also a bit worried about how much it’s going to affect phd work in this period. In theory it shouldn’t, as I’ll be applying to the graduate school to suspend my phd for 6 weeks or so, but still a little scary. They were both things that I’d be stupid to say no to. It does mean that between now and the end of November I’ll only be in the UK for around 7 weeks out of 20 though which does bite a bit. Not sure that the boyf is too happy about this, but there’s not a lot I can do about it.

Came second again in the pub quiz this week. Sad times as this was my last one. Our various teams were joined by people from the Corwith Cramer, which proved pretty advantageous on a few questions :) went back to the station from that in the boat which always makes me happy. Friday was the perfect end to the week, went out fishing on a friend’s boat after dinner, got to drive it on the way back in which was fun too :) Last boat I drove was when I was driving the barge (in fact I think that might even be me in that picture, not driving, but on the deck at the back of the boat). Saturday I got to go out on a station dive (basically one of the guys on station runs dives that the BIOS staff and interns can participate in, for reduced cost), which was super exciting and super scary in equal measures as I haven’t dived for just under three years or so. All went according to plan though and we had two good dives which was great fun. Very small selection of photos from that are up here. I did take way more than that (I get a little snap happy), but managed to cut it down to a few of the better ones.

As i write this am watching the replay of the Bermuda vs Finland lacrosse match from the World Lacrosse championships which are ironically being held in the UK at the moment (in Manchester). A friend of mine is playing for the BDA team so thought I’d pay attention to it. Know quite a few people that play lacrosse now, but most of them are girls, and it’s a totally different game. Not least because men’s lacrosse seems to be pretty violent.

Right enough prattling on, time to go and clean my bike off and then maybe a sneaky little trip to the beach for the afternoon.

Enjoy. xx

Monday, 12 July 2010

Busy, busy bee

So far, so good. I have had one of the craziest weeks/ten days that I’ve had for a long time. It started last Friday, with the T party that I mentioned in the last post. I spent most of the evening explaining to the Americans that because I was British, that Stop Lights were actually called Traffic Lights. There were some awesome photos. Fancy dress parties are so under-rated, you can’t beat costumes. Some of the other costumes included........ Mr T., Transvestite, Tennis Player, A Telephone-taped Tetrahedron, Toga, Tourist, Tourettes, Twins, Tiramisu, a TV, Thing 1 and Thing 2, a Tracheotomy, a Trashed Trace-metal chemist, a Tea bag (which generated a lot of tea-bagging jokes), John Travolta, a Thug and possibly the funniest of all, Tu-Pac. Done with the liberal application of dark foundation. Which hilariously then didn’t come off for a few days :D Kept us all amused anyway! It was a very good evening. Ended up being thrown in the Reach (the sea in front of our bar) fully clothed including my jeans and my shoes. Pretty standard really for a Friday night here. Well, Friday night turned into 5 am in the morning before I went to bed. Saturday started with a fry up (general state of shabbiness on Saturday morning necessitated someone going to buy fry-up ingredients), and then went out on a friends boat for a cheeky little snorkel. Did the trick and felt great after that. Evening was a BBQ with our lab group here at our boss’s house – more awesome food and beer! They’ve got a 2 week old baby who is just gorgeous.

Sunday was July 4th – never really something that we bother to celebrate, but seeing as we’re surrounded by Americans, we felt we probably should join in with the fun :D So, back out on the boat, with a cooler full of beers to a sandy harbour.

Anchor up, crack open the beers, and float in the water. Occasionally climb up a really freakin high cliff and jump off into the water.

Note; do NOT hold your nose whilst you do this, otherwise you risk punching yourself in the face as you land, and cutting your mouth open. Fact. Once we got back in the evening, a July 4th BBQ, followed by climbing up on top of our bar, and watching the fireworks from Tucker’s Town with a beer. Perfect.

Monday evening was a friend’s birthday, so I played chef and cooked dinner. First time I’ve had access to a proper kitchen since I got here! J what was supposed to be a ‘quiet’ night turned into another 5am bedtime. Not so much drinking, but just a lot of chatting with friends. Had a year’s worth of catching up to do with a friend of mine, so we talked into the small hours. We talked a lot of shop, lots of science, and what we were trying to do with our lives. It made me do a lot of thinking about life. Although having said that, it did make me realise that the next few years for me could be pretty good, as long as I make the most of them.

Thursday was another big night, as my Canadian friend Mark left to back to Canada. Trivia night, and then back to the bar for free Rum. Always dangerous. Lots of banter that night, more swimming in the Reach, this time mostly without clothes though J However, I would just like to point out, that I have been in work by 7.45 every day this week, and have had a super productive week. I don’t mind working hard, so long as I can play hard too. Friday night was ANOTHER leaving do, this time we went out into Hamilton (the capital of Bermuda) and started of the night with sushi and Sake. I’ve never had sushi before but it was absolutely awesome. And then out to the clubs, went to one where we had to go through a freakin’ metal detector to get in!!!! WHAT??!! And then a few armed police came in and took a wander around....... this is so not how things roll in the UK...

I am going to miss this place in a big way, but my liver will be exceedingly happy to get home and have a break whilst I hit the training. Hard. Been managing to keep up ok with the training, despite the playing hard, playing soccer, running, playing ultimate Frisbee...... but I am missing being in a boat. We’re still having problems with finding the funding for our crew to get out to our EUSA competition; our University don’t seem too keen on supporting us which I think is pretty shit. Fingers crossed. I feel a bit useless because I’m not much use to the others trying to sort things out from here. Lazy weekend this weekend, BBQ last night and early bed for me, and a trip to the beach today with some snorkelling :D

Judging by the amount I seem to write each week, maybe I should start posting a little more often..........

Friday, 2 July 2010

Seriously? It's July already?

Well, my intention of writing every week somehow fell by the wayside. Firstly I blame having what essentially boils down to a ten day holiday when my boyfriend came to stay, then a week out at sea, and then, well, just general laziness. I will endeavour to update this more often, but in reality I probably will forget again.

Had an awesome time whilst the boyf was here, it was nice because it meant I actually got off station and went out to see the island and play tourist. Rented scooters for 2 days which was fab. So much fun and freedom compared to having to get the bus everywhere. Managed to get a fair bit of climbing in which kept him happy, I’ve only done one more session since he left due to time constraints and practicality of getting to where we climb.

My 365 project is still going strong, I’ve completed almost a month now which makes me pretty chuffed. Although I am finding it a bit weird trying to think of new ideas and news places to take photos, when I am in a pretty public place I just feel a bit self-concious. Hopefully this will go away the longer I do it :) Have been taking a fair few other photos too, and sticking them up on Flickr as I go along, so feel free to have a browse.

Work is going ok, the last cruise was good, although I find it very difficult to get academic work done whilst I’m on the cruise, sampling is fine, just reading and computer stuff does my head in (and doesn’t help if you’re prone to seasickness). The food however, is awesome. The crew is Filipino, and they cook awesome food for us. Having spoken to people who routinely go out on other cruises, by all accounts we’re very lucky with the food we get served on the ship. Off out to sea again 3rd week of July, and then it’ll be time to go home! Definitely does seem like my time here this year is flying by compared to last year. I think it’s because I know people here already this year, and I was already aware of the cost of food etc so that it wasn’t AS much of a shock to the system as it was last year. A couple of friends are leaving the island in the next week, but a good friend from last year has just arrived back on the island so I guess it’s not all bad :).

Still got 4 weeks left to crack out an awesome tan for the time I go home and make all my friends jealous :) Have upped the training stakes (apart from whilst out on the ship), and at the moment I’m running around 25km a week, playing soccer at least once a week (normally twice), doing yoga once a week, and hopefully I will be swimming once a week from now on too. We are right next to the water here, but I’m a little iffy about training there because it gets pretty busy with boats and jetskis that go pretty quickly, and come pretty close in to the shoreline. I’m going to try going out to one of the beaches and swimming along the shoreline. We’ll see how that goes.

Got woken up to massive amounts of thunder this morning which was quite nice (if not a little bit scary). I love thunderstorms. Particularly at night when you can see forked lightning striking the ground. Party this evening with the theme of the letter T. I’m going as a set of traffic lights. Not overly original I know, but I am severely limited by the amount of clothes I have here with me in Bermuda, and no access to a fabric store, or even more helpfully – Primark!