Monday, 28 November 2011

The Fog Blog

Actual Fog:
From my deck you can usually see a lovely view of the M2 motorway bridge and green hills of the Ranscombe Farm nature reserve on the other side of the river valley, but this week it’s been foggy everyday in Medway. Interestingly each foggy day has had 0.5mm of moisture in the rain gauge just from air humidity alone! We’ve had some great cobwebs covered with droplets moisture (my daughter asked ‘Are they real?’) and some mysterious misty views as we walked along the Rochester esplanade.
Unfortunately, the down side of all this fog is the scary driving conditions along the motorway from Medway to Avery Hill, I’ve certainly seen more accidents on the road since it started. Everyone seems to have a view, but my favourite quote comes from ‘A’ of the Education Liaison Unit, after travelling down to Medway for the open day last Saturday which went: ‘Really, some people DO NOT know how to drive in fog! The lady in front of me braked so hard you’d have thought she was driving into a brick wall! 
Mental Fog:
I really don’t know what’s happening to me lately, whether the fog has actually infiltrated my brain or if there is some other reason I seem to be forgetting all sorts of things. So far this week I have:

  •  Locked myself and the cat (we had just been to the vets) out.
  • Left an electric heater with a damp tea towel on top of it and gone off to work in Avery Hill (which meant I had to do a 40 mile round trip at lunch time to make sure the house hadn’t burnt down).
  •  Left my USB stick at Avery Hill on Monday and didn’t get it back until Thursday.
  •  Left my Lab book in the lab on Friday (honestly it’s got so much important data in it, I never usually let it out of my sight), knowing I wouldn’t be back until Tuesday.
  • Forgotten what the GTTR was called, and as a former teacher that is VERY embarrassing!

Life in the Lab:

This week has been a great week in the lab (forgetfulness forgotten for a moment). The core we so painstakingly took from the submerged forest at Erith has been extremely fruitful, with some excellent preliminary results indicating an episode of sea level change – Yay !
This is the stratigraphic holy grail we have been searching  for all year... I’ll put a little bit more detail about it in my next blog, but in celebration I thought I’d share this rather beautiful (even if it is CGI) video clip of some diatoms – Enjoy!

aDiatomea: ColonyIII from MRK on Vimeo.

J’s record of the week :
‘Another star’

Due to the theme of the blog, I nearly picked ‘A foggy day in London Town’ by Fred Astaire, but instead I decided to go with Stevie Wonder. It’s not often that Jerushah hears a captivating song by a well known artist that she hasn’t heard before, but this week it happened. The song comes from Stevie’s 1976 album ‘Songs in the Key of Life.’ I heard it as I was driving to Medway, listening to Radio 2 (I know, I know, old people’s radio! I also listen to Radio 4 sometimes too...), when this song came on. It was so heart-rending, it nearly brought a tear to my eye – I almost declared aloud to the radio ‘Don’t worry Stevie; I’ll give you a hug!’ Jerushah x

Monday, 7 November 2011

Frights & (non) Fireworks


I was rather nostalgically looking at my Halloween blog from last year the other day and remembering all the fun and frights we had at Smallhythe Place. Now  we have our own little house, this year I gave ‘Mini S’ the choice between booking a Halloween ‘ghost walk’ or having a Halloween party at home.
She chose the Halloween party option, so on the night before Halloween our was invaded by a selection of nine year old scary monsters... Knocking on our door in quick succession were a demon; a ghoul, a zombie, a pumpkin, and a witch. What did ‘Mini S’ dress up as I hear you ask ? A black cat of course ! Twilight and her made a great pair at first, but as more and more guests arrived, she (Twilight, not Mini ‘S’) sensibly took refuge under the bed ! 

I think I enjoyed the party as much as they did, though I have to admit, I was a little nervous of running it single handedly... It went without a hitch, and we enjoyed all sorts of games, including apple bobbing, a no handed doughnut eating competition, pin the nose on the witch and spooky musical statues. The evening culminated in a spooky treasure hunt which led the party goers up and down the street and in and out of the neighbours’ houses and gardens !
I can’t take all the credit though... I had help from my unwitting house guest ‘J’ on Saturday night, who was force fed extremely hot curry while being made to write poetic treasure hunt clues; next door neighbour ‘H’ who let us hide a clue and a spooky purple glowing pumpkin in the creepy alleyway to her back garden and opposite neighbours ‘J & J’ who were kind enough to hide the treasure in their house J.
Jerushah gets her core:
Last Saturday I was a very happy lady, as I finally got to take MY core at the submerged forest in Erith...
This time there were research supervisor (you’ve met him before) ‘Dr A;’ undergraduate environmental scientist ‘J’ and (now graduated and here for the fun of it) friend ‘K.’
We had some very heavy duty coring equipment with us, so I decided to pull into the Erith Yacht Club car park to ask if we could unload there. Our sea faring friends there were in fact, extremely kind and rather than risking life and limb wading out through the mud to our usual site, they invited us to walk out to the peat exposure via their lovely concrete slipway... Post field trip, we were so clean, you would hardly know that we had done any fieldwork at all !
We managed to core right through the peat unit into the mud below, a preliminary look showed an interesting oxidised horizon – can wait to get on with the processing !
 (Non) firework night :
oor me, I love fireworks, but I seem to have missed out on fireworks this year ! ‘Mini S’ dislikes fireworks and so does Twilight kitty, so we elected to stay in on the night of the biggest local firework display on Friday 4th  November to keep Twilight company, and go to Ikea on the night of Saturday 5th.
It was lovely and quiet, with no queues and bargains everywhere !  As it is getting increasingly difficult to dry linen in an environmentally friendly way, I was really pleased they were selling duvet sets for £1.99 ! As for the other things I bought though, I came home thinking ‘Were those really necessary ?’   
I’ll let you be the judge !
J’s record of the week :
watching me.’

This week ‘Somebody’s watching me’ popped up on a compilation of Halloween music that we downloaded for the party... Reading up a little bit for this blog, I didn’t realise until now that the backing vocals featured both Michael and Jermaine Jackson.  Listening to it took me back to my first year of secondary school in the 1985, when in was released in the UK – my mum used to absolutely love this song and do funny actions to the line ‘When I’m in the shower I’m afraid to wash my hair !’ I wonder if she’d remember it now ? 

Jerushah X