Sunday, February 27, 2011


Very positive blog today, my life has direction!

Having being showing many people this video about making plasma from a grape, I was asked by a non-chemist friend (who did chemistry up to GCSE) what plasma is, this resulted in a discussion of what makes a molecule a molecule and an atom an atom. She apologised for asking obvious questions, but I didn't mind in fact I enjoyed imparting knowledge to someone, this has confirmed to me that teaching is where I should go (be that in a secondary school, or at a university).

Today has further confirmed that! I had a lovely walk with ramsoc, rather than having my first assessed walk, I let a friend be assessed while I was given a map and was a kind of secondary leader, just helping with the navigation, and being tested on where we were. Apart from an initial foul up, where I hadn't been told the route, and then struggled to work out where we were, all was good and I kept us pinpointed on the map!

Although I wasn't the official leader, the fact I had a map meant I looked like one, this meant people, who wouldn't normally, were speaking to me and asking questions because I ought to know what is going on; and again, I really enjoyed myself. Ramsoc, over the last 18 months, has really helped me out, my confidence with new people has increased so much! So much in fact that I'm going to stand for committee next year if I can get a proposer and seconder so some good times ahead I think!

Having got back from the walk I had very muddy shoes and trousers, even my bag didn't escape, although I'm not sure how I'm going to wash that! Will brush most of the mud off when its dry...going to get a proper rucksack for walking though, my current one is not ideal and if I'm going to be leading I need to be able to carry more stuff - just another thing I need to spend money on!

Labs start again tomorrow, so 5 weeks in the physical labs. I found the prelab calculations pretty tough, but having read through the actual experiment it should, touch wood, be a relatively easy and pain free afternoon tomorrow! A nice way to ease back into labs and not having afternoons off anymore! Luckily, its a workshop week for our phys chem module, which means we get an extra hour off tomorrow and don't start 'til 11 so at least my day has been shortened a bit!

So yeah, I'm a pretty happy bunny at the moment. I'm up to date with work, I have a shiny bike frame in my room with various plans for building it, and I vaguely know what I want to do after uni!

Good times!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've been busy again, well almost!

Sunday was cinema day, went to see Gnomeo and Juliet in the end. It was very good, although will have to get it on DVD and watch again to make sure I get all the shakespeare references!

I then decided to go home after lectures on Monday (as I was free from 1on Monday until 11 on Wednesday), I really enjoyed the being back (and just over a week until I'm home again - yay!). Its not that I overly miss home anymore, but its nice to not be here for a while...even though I have some great housemates (and one not so great..), I'm not enjoying a shared house as much as I thought I would. Here for 1 more year and then perhaps I can look into renting (or maybe even buying) a "proper" house or flat for my 4th year, and PhD if I do one...

After dropping my mum off at the hairdressers and visiting the grandparents I took my brother to the cinema, well, we didn't actually make it in because they had signs up everywhere saying no ID no entry to Paul (which is a 15), and my brother being 14 therefore had no chance! We went bowling instead which was great fun, we had to wait a little while before we could get a lane (lots of small children were bowling!) so we had a came of pool (I lost!) and then a couple of goes on the grabber (he won a spongebob soft toy on his first go!). The 3 games of bowling, I won the first one..and got the only strike of our visit! Lost the other 2 (although they were close!), bowling is definitely not my strong point!

I've been really lazy and haven't done much riding, will have to try and get out tomorrow or saturday. Got soaked cycling home yesterday, and really muddy thanks to our lovely clean roads...
I do have a new frame though, I ordered it on Tuesday night (they had a sale on small people frames!), and it arrived this morning. I think I might be in love... Its an annodized black on one scandal. Will try to get some pictures at some point. Its going to be an ongoing project as I want to build it up to be really lightweight. Currently trying to decide on a colour scheme. I'm tempted to go with a few blue bits, but I already have 2 blue bikes! Other big contender is red, also thought as its black, I could get some tasteful silver bits...or just make everything black...but that would be boring. Any opinions?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

20/2/11 - Grade II at Edale.

Writing the date has made me realise just how quick this term is going! 6 more weeks and we're on eater holidays (then only 2 weeks after that 'til exams and then summer!).

There is only one thing of any interest that I have done since Friday. Grade II training with ramsoc. So that's what I'm going to talk about to day; its so exciting that I think it deserves a post to itself.

Pick up at 9 o'c'lock, I was easily ready on time (always am..) but was still feeling far from awake! I arrived at the bus stop, greeted by 2 more trainees, only about 10 minutes until the bus arrived. At this point, and throughout the journey I was feeling a bit apprehensive, as I had no idea what to expect from the day, other than that it was going to be a very long day, and that the weather forecast was pretty horrendous. This was not helped by the fact I get travel sick on minibuses in particular, and had chosen to sit at the back.

The closer we got, the more snowy it was getting (glad I wasn't in charge of driving!), when we arrived at Edale there was a decent covering of snow, although it had just about stopped falling, not very windy either (despite the forecast predicting gale force gusts!), so we were quite lucky.

Our first instruction, once we'd all kitted up, was "Open the map and find yourselves", this was more difficult than you would have expected because we were expected to pinpoint ourselves to the millimetre on the map - once we'd done that we walked a little bit around the corner and were asked to do it again. Just getting us used to navigation using our surroundings. Most of us made the same mistake, put we managed to correct it pretty quickly it was then a 100m pacing, to see how many steps we walking in 100m (very useful later), before taking it in turns to get to a specified location (where everyone not navigating would have to work out where they were). The navigations got progressively harder, with the first few people just having to get to a particular point along the footpath. My first map reading fail came when looking for myself, I wasn't concentrating and picked a point relative to a car park about 15km away! (oops!)

I was the first person to navigate away from the path, this went well...although I confused a few people with my route choice, as I went round in a bit of a circle rather than taking a direct route, as I wanted to take my group on a safe route, what with all the snow. Once my nav was over it was just a matter of following, and trying to remember where we walked to make for easy finding on the map. We had a rather steep (and too long for most of us) ascent just before lunch. A bit more navigation practise with the group and then we were split into pairs and given a rock on the map to go and find. Surprisingly, we all took different routes, but despite much wandering about between a wall and a path, trying to count paces, and work out a bearing we all got reasonably close to the rock, which although on the map, we couldn't see thanks to the snow! We were then given a different partner and had to repeat the exercise, only this time we all had different points, and they were a bit more tricky to find (especially with the thickening fog!).

After that we had a couple of hours of fun. We played the bag game, where we swapped rucksacks, walked no more than 150m on a particular bearing and left the rucksacks (surprisingly difficult to walk back the 150m to the group because for was really limiting visibility by this point!) , and then gave instructions as to where the bag was to its owner. Only one bag was "lost" and this was the one I placed on the second round, I was perhaps a bit harsh as I put it in a difficult to see spot. I knew where it was though so it wasn't lost, and it gave us something to practise sweep searching with (rather than one of the leaders hiding and getting cold!). We also tested out the bothys just so we all knew what they were like, should we ever need one.

After this it was decided that, rather than the usual grade II kill a few hours and then descend in the dark, that we should walk down while it was light, because the fog and snow was making it pretty difficult anyway. I slid over at least 4 times on the way down, and I'm pretty sure most people did! The plan then was to just walk a couple of hundred metres up and back down again, before we got the minibus, after we'd all eaten.

So, to the Nag's Head pub. In my opinion the best pub in the Peak District. We had a great couple of hours in there, before it was decided that some people were too drunk for night nav (not me, I'd only had coke!), so back to the minibus. Fog made for an interesting drive back, but we made it home for 10 (a bit earlier than planned due to no night nav)...I slept well last night...pretty sure everyone else did too!

Tempted by the walk at Langsett today, but my legs probably won't forgive me! Definitely going to go on the walk next week though, I could potentially have it as my 1st assessed walk (have to do 2 before being grade 2 qualified), but instead I think I will just help with the navigation. Want to make sure I'm 100% confident with that before I have to start thinking about all the group management stuff as well!

Right, cinema today instead - but what to see - Tangled, Gnomeo and Juliet, Paul or Yogi Bear?

Friday, February 18, 2011


Riding update: Again, no real training to speak of but I got a bit too involved in commuter racing today! Someone overtook me on my way in this morning (going downhill on a road bike, and I was on my ss xc bike!), but I overtook them going up hill...only to be again overtaken when she jumped a red light, but...justice was done and I overtook her, and left her way behind after that. Following someone on the way back as well, couldn't overtake because he was weaving all over the place, but I didn't let him get away (even when he also felt the need to jump a red light!). Definitely feel like I'm getting quicker, over short distances at least.

Uni update: Presentation was this afternoon. The adrenaline definitely kicked in, there was free cake for us, and I couldn't eat any until I was done because I was so nervous, and I got cold fingers too (which I put down to adrenaline diverting blood to the core, although a biologist will probably correct me on that!). It actually went really well, Got a few bits mixed up, and didn't stick entirely to my scripted speech (although thats probably a good thing). The academic in charge was also just about to stop me for the 5 minute limit when I finished, so I'd paced myself perfectly (yes, even if I do say so myself); despite the opening nerves, pointing stick and notes in hand I actually felt quite good. There is still hope for me to become a lecturer then!

Also, saw our quantum chemistry lecturer today, he has been in and out over the last few months with some sort of illness. It was nice to see that he was well enough to be at work again (although he was still looking ill). He's a nice guy, and, despite what many people say, I found him to be a great lecturer - couldn't have got 64% in the module without him - so hope he makes a speedy recovery!

Its peak district day tomorrow, bought some dry bags in preparation so everything in my rucksack will stay dry. Assuming we make it off Kinder Scout alive (pretty sure we will because Graham will be there and he is the ramsoc God!), I shall update at some point on Sunday as to how it went (assuming I can get out of bed!).


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Good news - my legs have recovered!
Unfortunately, due to my uni timetable and the influx of coursework my only riding since has been the usual "how fast can I ride to campus and back?".
No training ride saturday either. A very long day on the hill in the peaks (no bikes allowed though..).

We're being picked up at 9 in the morning, and then will be on the hill until after dark in order to make sure we can navigate in many different situations. This is grade 2 training for ramsoc and, after a couple of assessed walks, will allow me to lead some Sunday walks. Going to be a long and tiring day (especially as the forecast is currently wet, windy, cold and maybe even snowy!) but should definitely be well worth it!

As far as the housemate situation goes, the so called "problem" housemate has now moved out. A couple of trips in my car (which really struggled!) and that was almost all his stuff gone. I'm told he's settled in well. And, to fill his space, we had a PhD student look around yesterday, I wasn't in, but apparently she is very nice. Only problem is she has a car, and we have reached our limit on parking permits...and I am not keen on giving up my permit (especially with all my races and stuff coming up next month, and labs will have started so I won't finish uni until 5....the car is going to be very useful!).

Also have "coursework D-day" coming up - tomorrow is presentation day, thankfully, despite what many have told us, we are allowed to have notes (although must be careful to ensure that we don't rely on them and still make lots of eye contact etc.) As of yesterday, my speech is finished, just about got the full 5 minutes, just got to practise lots to make sure I can get all the words out in a reasonably logical way, and sort out my breathing (I've practised a few times and my breathing goes to pot...). We also need to finish the poster which will be up in the background. Its looking good so far, just needs a bit of tweaking, and maybe some more pictures if we can fit them on!

Final topic for the day (not long 'til I have to leave for uni) is dreaming. I'd really like to know where dreams come from. I had a dream last night, which I shan't go into because it is not for the faint-hearted, but I woke up and felt physically ill after what I had just witnessed - how does something like that get into my head?! The previous night is perhaps easier to see where it came from, as that was a work related dream...but one of those dreams where events are logical and kind of make sense, but then different places and times get mixed up (e.g. I was getting uni results, but then was talking to people about it in my old school form room with friends from school!), but that was definitely preferable to last nights dream!


Saturday, February 12, 2011


The nice relaxing ride turned into about 35 miles in the peaks. I was feeling it then, and I'm feeling it now- owww, that was hard work! But it was worth it because I met up with some other people on the team, and I'm definitely satisfied with my efforts!

Within a few miles I realised I was going to struggle, I had under estimated how long some of the climbs were, as it was just a ride in the "gentle" white peaks. By then end every climb was a struggle, my speed slowed down to 6 or 7 mph at some points and it took all my efforts just to keep the pedals turning and not get off and walk. Couldn't have done it without the help and support of everyone there though so thanks guys!

Considering the current state of my legs, the terrible forecast and my mountain of work I've decided not to go to Eyam with ramsoc tomorrow. I'll have a bit of a lie-in and then hopefully make some progress with coursework.

I spent about 7 hours on the organic assessed tutorial yesterday (finished uni at 1), and made it about 45% of the way through - and it looks like it gets even harder! I'm yet to start the poster /presentation start for the communication module. I think between us we're aiming to get the poster done by Tuesday. That's a job for tomorrow afternoon I think (my team mate is also a housemate and he quite frequently doesn't stir until 3 or 4 in the afternoon!). Have monday afternoon and most of Tuesday for work to so I'm hoping to get on top of it all (need to get back on top of going through notes and making sure everything actually makes sense too!)

But, for these evening, I think maybe a bit of tutorial work, but just going to chill with some good TV!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I'm need of some procrastination so a perfect time to update I think!

Things have moved very fast with regards to the house, 5 is becoming 4. The dispute is far from being resolved, and his in fact escalated quite considerably so he's, in essence, being forced out. He'll moving in somewhere new over the weekend. He'll be missed by me at least!

My other housemates have placed an ad on the local student housing website looking for someone new to pay the rent. I'm not optimistic that we'll find someone suitable, but it doesn't bother me too much because I didn't want to make him leave, so I'm not going to pay any extra to cover his rent etc. Not my problem. Tee hee.

Despite my sudden urge to stop working for a while, I have, by and large got my work ethic back. we have an assessed tutorial for organic chemistry due in on Wednesday, but before I start that I'm going through all my notes from the lectures thus far and writing them up and making sure that I really understand everything this time. Going to do the same for the other modules once this coursework is out of the way. The other coursework on the go at the moment is literature and communication skills. Part 1 (worth a massive 60% of the module) is finished (early!), and is looking awesome, even if I do say so myself! Part 2 (worth 20%) is a poster and 5 minute presentation. The poster is to be done in pairs, and then the presentations solo. We're aiming to have the poster done by Tuesday so we can prepare for the trauma of a presentation (without prompt cards or anything!).

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I played quidditch (its glorified netball really, because we haven't yet mastered the flying brooms and magical balls!), it was great fun but I ached this morning! 30 miles on the bike, complete with interval training, left me a bit sore...but nothing like this. Even now, my legs are hurting, and my back and shoulders are somewhat painful when I move, but its worth it!

Plan for the weekend is a training ride on Saturday (hopefully nothing to stressful), and then my last walk with ramsoc as a mere grade 1 trained member on Sunday (grade 2 training is next Wednesday and Saturday - yay!)

OK, back to the Aldol reaction I go...

Auf wiedersehen!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


OK, I'm having a slow day and with my 20th birthday fast approaching (well, its less than 5 months away now!) I've compiled a list of the 10 things that I want to do before I'm 25. Some of these are hopefully achievable sooner rather than later, others are slightly more long term goals - although 5 years isn't a hugely long time!

1. Meet my Mr. Right: OK, perhaps a bit of a cliche, but I'd like to think that by age 25 I've met that special someone, and am at least getting close to settling down a bit with them. If you are tall, dark and handsome....get in touch! No I don't mean "requirements" are somewhat less superficial than that.

2. Get a piano (or keyboard!) and learn to play properly this time: I had keyboard lessons, rather than piano lessons when I was about 13 or 14 and I really enjoyed it, I wish I'd carried on, hopefully when I get some space (and some money) I can at least start to learn again in the next few years.

3. Stand inside the Arctic Circle: A bit random I know, but I want to see places and I'm a fan of the cold rather than the heat. I was going to put go the the poles, but I think this is more achievable.

4. Visit somewhere on the other side of the equator: Again, I want to see the world. Not sure where I want to go, but to see somewhere far from here, and very different would be nice.

5. Climb the highest 10 “mountains” in England, Scotland and Wales: This links in to seeing places, but also my love of hill walking. Out of these 30 "mountains" (I'm not sure how many can be classified as a mountain) I've done 1, Snowdon. Hopefully I can knock a fair few of these off over the summer. I shan't give you all of them but it includes Ben Nevis, Tryfan, Scafell Pike and Skiddaw

6. Achieve a podium in a cycling race: This one is hopefully achievable this year, well it will be if I get out and get some training in instead of slacking! Think it'd be nice for my first season with Inverse RT to get a podium, even if its not in a national, BC affiliated event.

7. Get a photo I’ve taken published in a magazine / online: I'm quite into photography, I don't have a dSLR but I do have a bridge camera, so I'm almost kitted out! It takes good enough photos for me, hopefully with all this travelling I'll be able to get that perfect shot, good enough for publication somewhere!

8. Skydive or bungee jump (or both!): Call me crazy, but I want to throw myself out of a plane (strapped to someone of course), finances permitting this is another one that I might manage nearer the summer as the university has its only sky diving club (although its remarkably expensive to just do a tandem dive!) Bungee jumping, I don't just want to do this off a crane or something, I want to do it somewhere amazing, so can fit it in with my seeing the world if I'm lucky!

9. Learn to snowboard: I was taken for 1 snowboarding lesson, I couldn't walk afterwards because my legs ached so much, and I was a bit rubbish, but I loved it (and did manage to get down the slope without falling over!) and hopefully I can get in a few more lessons and get to the stage where they let me go it alone! I might get onto organising that actually...

10. OK, this isn't on the same level as the others but hey, it needs deciding - Organic, Physical or Inorganic? My tutor seemed quite surprised the other day when I said that I probably liked them all equally at the moment!

11. Take a photo every day for a year: Yeah, the last one doesn't count. I'm not sure when I'll start this, but when I do I shall definitely post them up here. Its a challenge I've seen quite a few people do and I just think it'll be fun (even if it will be hard to be inspired every day!)

So that’s it, my list. I will, of course, update you as to when I manage to tick them off the list.

Anyone else have a list of things to do before 25? (or before any age really?)

Saturday, February 5, 2011


OK and the results are in!
Quantum chemistry and Spectroscopy: 66%. Not far off a first, very happy with that as I came out of the exam thinking I'd just about got about 50%! Looks like making the answers that I was sure about much more thorough than they needed to be paid off!
Atmospheric chemistry: 70%. OK, its a first so I can't complain, but I'm slightly disappointed with this one as I'd put a lot of work into this and came out feeling confident (expecting at least 80% if I'm honest!)
My tutor is very happy with the 68% average, although that counts for just 1/6 of my marks this year (and about 1/25 of the overall degree!)

Had another exam on Friday, this was the general inorganic one, a few questions threw me, on account of having no idea what sort of things my come up, but overall I'm happy with how it went (I almost enjoyed it!).

The house is now signed for so definitely staying where I am for 3rd year although not sure how well we'll be getting on with each other! War seems to have broken out, I'm trying to stay unbiased in it as it doesn't directly involve me but its difficult and I'm definitely edging one way (with is towards the side no one else is taking!). There is already talk of people having to move out over this, which I find difficult to comprehend as its all started over nothing but hopefully everything will get sorted out.

Now things have calmed down a bit and I'm not manically busy I've got time to talk about a few other things. With the situation as it is at the moment, its difficult to avoid mentioning the Egyptian, as a typical student I don't keep up a lot with the news so I most certainly don't know the ins and outs of whats happening there at the moment. That said, my admiration goes to the people of Egypt. The majority are peacefully protesting and standing up for what they believe in (unfortunately being ruined by violence from the minority). I (or anybody) am unable to predict what the outcome will be, but whether the president stays or goes one thing is for sure - change is going to happen. And they deserve it.

An update on my riding as well. I've been shot down by another sinus infection, I've had to miss a proper training ride today (although probably for the best with the wind and rain!), although the last 2 days I managed some speedy riding between here and campus so I'm always working on it. I've decided not to enter my first road race, which could have been in just 2 weeks; but I have got potentially 2 cross country races next month...going to be a test of my fitness and skill but should be good fun to get back into it and get my first race under the belt for Inverse RT. I have some sort of lecture or meeting every day this week so I'm aiming to ride to uni at least 4 out of the 5 days - my ride to uni is only about a mile so its not going to get me race ready, but I'm chipping time off every day so I'm sure it'll help me with sprinting and stuff - especially when I get pulled in to commuter racing (and trying to race the cars and buses!). Hopefully will have time to do a longer ride this week (although also wanting to get back to quidditch practice on my only free afternoon...pretty sure, although not riding, will definitely help with my fitness as it is very hard work!)


Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Bring on the weekend!
This week is getting pretty hectic. Project work is taking up a lot of my time, spent much of today in labs for a recording of a Grignard reaction. It all went swimmingly, much better than when I did it and it was assessed for my lab module! Hopefully can make up a few lost marks with the project though!

That aside it was coursework deadline day on Monday (mine was in early!), that was a weight off my shoulders- just an exam tomorrow, and the results from the "proper" exams on Friday. Bit nervous about both of those, but que sera sera! (if thats how you spell it!). Will post my results up on here!

Its not the work thats bothering me though - its all the 9am starts, I used to be fine with it but I'm finding that just an extra half hour in bed would be greatly appreciated. No rest at the weekend either - meeting at 9am for a fast paced ride to see if I'm up to race pace yet! (race season is rapidly approaching!)

Many things I'd like to talk about, but I shan't go on tonight as I still have much to learn for the exam tomorrow; I'm slowly getting there, and I've definitely done much more than everyone else, but I just don't feel ready yet.

So watch this space for some real content soon, instead of my ramblings!