Sunday, 29 April 2012

Weather, wonders and walking...

As I'm sure you've realised, dear reader, that a lot more has happened to me in the last year or so than the last post hinted at. How right you are! Here's a little more recap...


The weather has been particularly strange in this corner of the world... When we expect it to be cold it's unseasonably warm and when we expect it to be warm (because we've had a week of t-shirt weather) it's unseasonably cold... and then there's the rain

and the sleet/hail

I'm one of those people who loves four, distinct seasons so when it's cold, I'm happy, when it's warm, I'm happy... but this recent weather very much has me pining for summer in Sweden. Warm, sunny, relaxing...


In December, I (finally?) became a British Citizen in a small ceremony at Brixton Town Hall. I think the most enjoyable part of the evening was that the woman who officiated the ceremony (The Mayor of Lambeth) is also originally from somewhere else and her accent was so thick it was often very difficult to figure out what she was saying. It was the perfect way to be welcomed into the "Bow of Lambett" and it made for several giggles on the way home afterward.

Last weekend I went to Belfast again to visit my Chickenhead. We had a wonderful time and I snapped some more photos of Belfast...

Chickenhead did give me quite a few questioning glances as I was taking some of the more arty shots, and even asked if I was trying to take a photo of what was inside the shutters in one shot. It took a little more convincing than I'm comfortable with, to be honest, to convince her that wasn't casing the joint! (It's probably simply a reflection of how well she knows me *grin*)

This week we got our grades back from our first two modules as well as the mark for our most recently submitted paper/report for Practical Skills for the Biosciences (PSB). My grade on the report before this one had been a 45. Gasp! So I wasn't very confident about the outcome of the most recent one, let alone my overall module grade. I (somehow) managed to get through that paper with a mark of 80! 80!! I'm still not entirely sure how I managed it but I'm not complaining and I will take the time to compare the two to ensure I know how to affect the differences going forward. This made my overall mark for the module (thank dog for weighted totals!) a pretty OK B+ for PSB. (I say "pretty OK" because I don't like it. It's not enough for my standards but I will accept it (somehow) because A. I have very little other choice and 2. I'm very slowly learning what "good enough" is.

For the other module, From Molecules to Ecosystems (FME), I got an A for the year. This too, is "pretty OK" because I would have loved a High A, but I realise the reasons I didn't are entirely down to me... getting back into the swing of things regarding academia, not committing as much time as I'd like studying, getting a little cocky, etc.

This week, I also started my Chemistry for the Biosciences module, which is divided into two different sections (making it two different classes?) of Organic and Biological Chemistry (OBC) and General Chemistry (GC).

Tuesdays are for GC and apart from the room being far too warm, it was a fun class.

Thursdays are for OBC and in a different part of the building so the room was a nice temperature but the lecturer has a thick Spanish accent... This caused issues for me due to several factors, but it meant that my brain wasn't able to translate what he was saying into English English and make the connections of the content. I couldn't absorb the information my brain had just translated. It was so bad at one point that I was looking at my phone, sending a message because my brain had all but given up trying to comprehend and I heard the word "dolphin". It made me chuckle, we're in a Chemistry class, after all, there's no way he said "dolphin" so my brain must really be on strike. I looked at one of my School Husbands, Ryan, to share the joke with him "Did he just say 'dolphin'?", to which he replied "Yes".

I was shocked, but sure enough, when I looked up, there was a slide on the wall, with a picture of a dolphin. It was a very surreal moment, indeed.

The whole evening was a bit like having Inigo Montoya as the lecturer and I absorbed very little of what was taught, though not as little as I feared, which is a relief.

I'm instituting a different game plan for this Thursday that includes more food and a different drug regime in the hopes that it makes a significant difference... if it doesn't; goodness knows where that will leave me!

Stay tuned, dear reader... I will certainly keep you posted on my progress with the Spaniard.


I'm doing something very important in just a few, short weeks, dear reader...

I'm walking 13 miles for charity! Whenever friends or family approach me and tell me they're skydiving for charity or cycling for charity, or getting waxed for charity; I always fully support their endeavours and donate generously with money. I can't do any of those things, so if I can help in any way, in my way; I do. I always explain that the only thing I can do, apart from donating money, is walk, and this is my firm conviction. But that means when a charity walk came up; I'd clean run out of excuses. Sigh.

So, I'm doing it, dear reader! I'm putting my money where my legs are...?? I'm walking, with a team, the Norwood 10 Bridges Walk for a wonderful cause. Norwood operate care homes for adults with various learning and social difficulties and they have a special place in my heart for a few reasons.

I would (as would others) be ever so grateful if you were able and willing to donate a little bit of money to help us reach our sponsorship goal... we're at 70% at writing this post... but we could do with a bit more. Here's the link for making donations and every little bit helps.

Thank you, very much, for even reading about Norwood and this challenge and thank you even more if you're able to donate!

I'll be snapping lots of pictures during the walk so stay tuned for those! Here's a map of the proposed route, so there will be lots of photo ops of this beautiful city! *whispers* I'm getting pretty excited about it, actually, though dreading the sore muscles at work the next day!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A year has passed before my eyes...

Long Pond, Clapham Common

So much of my world has changed since I last posted here and I've wanted to write to you for a while, but I got quite lost, quite overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start...

What do you, dear reader, want to know about?

I could talk about work...

This summer I got an amazing job with an amazing firm of some wonderfully mad, wacky people. There hasn't been a day yet where I've *not* wanted to go to work.

Sometimes, as seems to be my way, I stay a little too long.... get a little too involved.... but I do love it so and I'm working on delegating. I swear!

This is getting easier as I learn that I don't need to control everything (Gasp!) and having an amazing minion doesn't hurt, either.

My "Mary Poppins' London" view from my office

I could talk about school (yes, school!)...

Stained red cells from a sample of horse's blood
Bradford Assay of BSA

I've started my BSc after seven lifetimes of not knowing what to do, where to start. I've had mixed results from my first two modules... It seems I'm a lot better with learning and knowing facts, processes, systems than with writing reports.

In fact, I think it's fair to say that I totally stink at writing reports. This fact may make it tricky should I firm up an option to become a research scientist somewhere down the line.

Perhaps I'll investigate exactly what a Medical Writer does. I hear they make good money.

I think the most difficult thing about heading onto this career path will be finding an acceptable balance between doing something vaguely altruistic and accepting that starting this late in life means I can be a little selfish and worry a bit about what my salary would be.

I'm still amazed at where a random comment on an internet forum can take a person.

I could talk about our kitchen...

Not so long ago, MrB commented that we should get a new oven/cooker - ours had a blown fuse so we couldn't use the light nor the extractor fan above the cooker and the bulb was blown inside the oven, it was breaking down... essentially it was in a nasty state of disrepair. While I completely agreed with him; I don't think he expected my response of wanting to re-do the entire kitchen.

See? To me it made perfect sense; whomever installed the cooker hadn't wired it properly so the fuse was behind the oven... If we were going to get a new oven, I would want to get it rewired. Properly. This would mean taking the cupboards, the tiles off the walls and since they weren't fantastic to begin with... I didn't like the idea of putting them back. I also wanted to work out a better layout for the room. We had an entire wall taken up/wasted by a fridge-freezer and I thought we could put the space to much better use.

Once I'd actually said all of this out loud to him he wasn't so freaked, thankfully, and a strange coincidence would put us in touch with a television production company who are doing a kitchen-remodel show and before we knew it; we were signing contracts and putting down deposits to have our kitchen gutted, re-designed and installed without having to lift a finger really. Bliss.

No worrying about calling the electrician, worrying about a late plumber, wondering what colour to choose for the walls, freaking out when the cupboards aren't ready in time and will grind the entire project to a halt.

Have I mentioned it was bliss? It totally was. And the end result? Far amazinger than I could have hoped!

The stolen wall before...
And after...

I could talk about Belfast...

I've been slowly, reluctantly falling in love with the place... against my better judgement. I think little gems like these are wearing away at my resolve...

Victoria Square Shopping Centre
Belfast City Hall
Albert Memorial Clock

I'm headed back next weekend, dear readers... I'll try to remember to snap some more beauties like these.