Thursday, 26 August 2010

August activities

Well. Somehow now it’s nearly September. I arrived back in the UK just over three weeks ago. After one night at home, straight back to Southampton for rowing training for EUSA regatta. And when I say straight back, I mean straight back to a training session, still with the car fully loaded. Note; don’t ever try and move house in a classic mini. It’s a ridiculous idea in theory and in practice. After 4 days of outings, I was finally ordered to have a day off, when the jetlag STILL hadn’t gone away (not really surprising), but in general, the two and a half weeks of training have just blurred into one. I had one day off after that, so went home for a lovely Saturday walk in the countryside with one of my friends from school followed by the mandatory pub lunch (after a total soaking in the rain).

In the two weeks of training, we totalled 14 outings in 12 days (had two days off), and 175km of rowing. That’s not a huge amount when you compare it to what the top level crews do as training, but when you consider that in theory I am supposed to be working full time as well, you can imagine that it becomes quite a drain. I didn’t unpack from Bermuda for 5 days because I was so busy.

Caught the early morning flight to Amsterdam on Thursday, and then had Thursday evening outing, Friday early morning outing, race for lanes on Friday afternoon, Saturday early morning and late afternoon outings, Sunday early morning outing, and final on Sunday afternoon. Exhausting. We got fairly well dominated by what we think are actually the world cup under 23 crews from Poland and Germany, and a crew from Durham university that we know has several girls in who have done internal squad stuff at under 23 level as well. So in that respect we didn’t do badly for a small university boat club, especially seeing as we get (in comparison) very little funding from our athletic union.

Racing was at the Bosbaan rowing lake (the first man-made racing lake to be built apparently!).

Saturday daytime gave us an opportunity to go off into Amsterdam and explore by bicycle which was awesome. It’s a really lovely city, and I’m desperate to go back again when I have a bit more free time and can enjoy the atmosphere properly! Cycling around was awesome fun, I've never seen so many bikes in my life! Also loved the fact that we hired bikes where there are no brakes, you have to pedal backwards to brake. Nearly took a couple of people out (several times) by instinctively reaching for the handlebar brakes and not stopping in time!

Back home now for another 2 weeks or so, still need to write a conference presentation (first presentation at a conference – eeeeek!!!), and try and fit in an upgrade meeting with my supervisors sometime before the 10th of September – not quite sure how that is going to happen.

Just realised that my holiday I booked months ago is actually really soon, and hadn’t even thought about checking all the logistics of it, like how I’m going to get to the airport, whether I need any vaccinations, what money I need, what clothing I need, whether I need to buy anything before I go, what stuff I need to collect from home etc. Fortunately the friend I am going on holiday with is slightly more clued up than I am. Morocco here we come!!! (and then straight off to Hawaii 12 hours later – that’s a totally different stress in itself, although the flights are booked now, all I have to do is work out how to get to and from the airports for my respective flights). The worst thing is that no-one has any sympathy for the stress because it’s super fun places that I’m going to!!! :) Super looking forward to holiday though, Fear not - pictures will follow!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Goodbye Bermuda

Well again, a lot of time has suddenly passed in the blink of an eye without me even realising it. Where had I got to? Well, the cruise was definitely an exciting one. We got to release some baby turtles, caught a giant squid head, saw dolphins and whales (both of which I missed), and got visited by a US Navy helicopter and planes whilst they were out doing training on an aircraft carrier. I say visited, they just did a fly-by, but 80miles away from land, that’s still pretty cool :)

Got back in from the cruise on the Tuesday evening, totally shattered. Wednesday turned into a pretty manic day, unloaded the ship in the morning (quickest unload EVER!) followed by finishing up in the lab (subsampling 46 samples to take home), and then having to cycle into Hamilton for 3.30-4. Had to cycle in as was supposed to be selling my bike to someone, except she ran out of time to come over to collect it. So me being the nice person that I am, cycled it out to her instead. And the
n she paid me just with Bermudian dollars so I then had to spend the best part of 45 minutes queuing to get it changed into American dollars so I could actually pay it into my bank when I went home. Great. And I was supposed to be meeting with my supervisor, and meeting people after work. I was SO STRESSED by the time I got back to work. Apparently they have never heard me talk that fast, but it all calmed down once I’d had a beer, had a shower and chilled out a bit.

A few of us went out for dinner which was nice – there were 3 of us leaving the island that weekend so we thought we’d try and go for dinner before we all went our separate ways over the madness of cup match weekend. Nothing like pizza at the Wharf. Except I somehow unintentionally got pretty drunk. Error. Then back to a party that all the members of staff on station were invited to :) they provided the beer, excellent food, and great company. What more could you ask for?

Thursday was the beginning of Cup match, but what with me being British and all that, I decided that I can watch cricket pretty much whenever I want to, especially when it’
s raining (which it was forecast to do, all weekend). Soooo, we went out to Camp Space, on an uninhabited island, had a massive raft up, listened to the Go Down Berries playing live, floated around in the sea whilst the weather was awesome, had a very wet soggy bonfire once it got dark, and then eventually sought shelter in JP’s boat. Oh, and before we got to the island, we got to play in an infinity pool with the best views ever. I loved life that day :) The whole day was like something out of a crazy American movie set, didn’t really seem like this kind of thing happens in real life. Apparently it does in Bermuda!

Friday afternoon was basically just about getting home from Camp Space, having a hot shower, eating the remains of my pizza from the wharf, and having a proper cup of tea. Managed to have a meeting with my supervisor which was very good. Friday night turned into a totally riotous night once everyone else came back from the cricket. Needless to say, people go thrown in the reach, cameras and keys got lost (including mine), and general fun and hilarity was had by all.

Saturday was a lazy day, not helped by monsoon type rain. It did mean that I managed to get my washing done though. Also did all of my packing which in hindsight was a brilliant plan, as there’s no way I’d have wanted to do it on the day I left. Had a big bbq in the evening which was great, bloody love barbeques.

Sunday morning was waterskiing in St George’s Harbour (except I was being wimpish and didn’t actually have a go!), followed by another fairly lazy day. Spent a few hours just relaxing and chatting, before a sneaky beer in the evening and then to the airport :( sad times. Olga and I had to be called by name as the last two passengers on the flight because she was in duty free buying rum. What a weekend to leave the island. Unfortunately I didn't really sleep on the flight which was a bit rubbish, but it was lovely having someone else to talk to for the flight home :)