15 October 2018

Annual day in the field

In autumn we take our second year students into the field to have a look at the direction ice bodies that shaped Snowdonia in former, colder times were travelling, and what that means. I've now blogged about that trip many times! In 2017, 2015, and 2014. I think I was too busy doing research in 2016. It is becoming a bit routine-ish now! Which is not bad. Then you know what to do and how to do it and you can enjoy it. Although every year you do things in a way of which you think afterwards it wasn't ideal! But well, one is fallible.

The weather forecast for this year was blustery but dry. Good enough! And the tides were such we could start in the mountains and go to the beach later, which is the way I prefer it.

We went. The first pleasant surprise was that all students were approximately equally fast. Sometimes the first person has to wait forever for the last to arrive, but not this year! And the second was that the water of the lake (Llyn Llydaw) was unusually low. That's great; much more rock exposed! And the often-submerged ones tend to have the nicest evidence of glacial motion. And the students were quite switched on! That was great too. Of course there were some who ignored my pleas and moved around a lot, or those who were measuring things that didn't have anything to do with glacial motion, or who used the compasses in inexplicable ways. But that's what we supervisors are for!

Before we went back down we packed up a tent someone had left. t was completely collapsed and clearly abandoned. The things people do! And when I say 'we' I mean 'other people' but I had the final responsibility for the field trip so I felt obliged to keep my eye on the students, not garbage.

Setting off from Pen-y-Pass. Pic by David

Measuring glacial striations on a rock that's normally submerged. Pic by David

Llyn Llydaw. Pic by David

 Doing the debrief. Pic by David

The students were done rather early so we had an extra long lunch break in Llanberis. Nice! We always eat in Pete's Eats but if you show up with a group of 40 people they struggle to feed them all within the hour.

After lunch we were off to Aberogwen. There the students were quite on the ball too! And the sun had come out. Nice!

We did the data gathering. Normally we then have a look at some sediments deposited in a proglacial lake, but, believe it or not, our view was obscured by a group of Cypriots with fluorescent helmets. Oh well, these fine sediments are bonus anyway! We called it a day. And then I had 14 datasets to put into excel, check, and process! Let's hope the data is as beautiful as I hoped it would be when I saw the lovely conditions in the field!

Doing a spiel on the beach. Pic by David

14 October 2018

Apple vandalism?

On a Sunday I walked into the garden to pick some apples. I do that every day! Apples don't get fresher than that. And I pick them as the tree so far has pretty much not produced any windfall. But now I suddenly saw apples on the floor everywhere. It had been a very quiet night! This wasn't a wind event. And several apples had been ripped off with the branch and all. And one trampled. This looked like vandalism! People in my garden, wrecking the place. I wasn't too happy about it. But it's just kids' naughtiness probably. It's not as if they had wrecked the entire tree! And I think they came from the neighbour's garden (not THE neighbour). There was a branch lying next to the apple tree that looked as if it had broken off from the tree standing above it, in the garden of some neighbours I don't know very well. Hm! Will have to keep an eye on this. And in the meantime I should make some more apple compote! I now have too many to just eat...

The apple tree and all loose apples I had found around it

This is not the work of the wind

Between father and sister

My dad had been on a mission to improve his relationship with his daughters for a while. Mainly with my middle sister. And because that was making progress, he hoped to be able to convince her to come to his birthday; something she wouldn't otherwise do. And he managed! But it didn't happen frictionlessly; he started to get carried away with expectations and forgot that when you want to make progress, you have to make an effort. And the whole project backfired! My sister tried to explain to him what had gone wrong, but he just didn't get it. I thought that was sad, and I decided to give it a go to explain things to him. It might work! I am more similar to him (in character, not looks) than my middle sister so maybe I can word things in such a way he understands. I wrote him a letter. And it didn't have the desired effect; he still didn't understand. But he didn't give up; he just wrote me a letter back. And now I've written another one! It's a lot of words going to and fro and we'll have to see how we manage. It's a lot of work but I hope it pays off! As long as we keep writing at least we're not giving up...

13 October 2018

Secong outing for tent

One Saturday I took my tent out for the first time. And the Saturday after I thought I'd do it again! This time I walked straight up the side of the valley, rather than long it. It boiled down to the same thing: walk for half an hour until you're in the wild, then pitch your tent only a little later, and enjoy the landscape. I had found again what I want: a stream and a rock to lean against. And some sort-of flat ground.

I sat down, had some tea, ate some apples and nuts, and phoned my mum. Nice to do that from underneath the Milky Way! Especially if you can see it (it doesn't go away, obviously). I also read my homework. And then it was time to brush my teeth and go to bed!

 On the way up I walked past Tan-y-Foel which looked lovely in the evening sun

This time the going to bed thing didn't go as planned. I had pitched the tent on just not even enough ground; that way you're less comfortable, and at risk of sliding off the mattress and getting very cold in places. I couldn't catch sleep! And additionally, the area was quite busy with ponies and sheep. I figured they would settle down to sleep too; they're diurnal animals. But they didn't. At some point I was a bit startled by hearing a funny-noises-making horse approach at speed. It passed me by, though. I then heard it whinny in the distance.

I don't know when I fell asleep! But I know I didn't wake up until 7.30, which is late for me these days. But it was early enough to catch the morning pink! I quickly got out of bed.

I noticed there was a lot of condensation on the inside of the tent. The night had been dry, but my breath hadn't! Note to self: dry the ceiling before I get up. All that water drips all over the place if you don't get rid of it.

I got out and enjoyed the views. I made my breakfast. Then I started a letter to my dad. I had brought pen and paper! Why not write letters with an amazing view. But sitting still was too inactive an activity for the weather; my feet got cold. I packed up and left. I walked back a different way; not only to see a new path but also to walk past the shop on the way.

It hadn't quite been the success it had been the week before, but one learns! Next time I'll spend a bit more time scouting for properly level ground. And maybe get further away from livestock. And will dry off the tent before I get up! I'm sure that will make all the difference.

Morning pink! 

My little tent and its neighbours

On the way back

Wholefood co-op open!

The wholefood co-op would move from a village in the perimeter to slap bang in the middle of Bethesda. Only one week earlier I had sanded and painted a door while other people sanded the counter, took down shelves, painted the wall, and whatnot. It was clearly work in progress! But the week after it already opened. Of course I popped in! And it looked stunning! And I am only a one person household so I can't buy too much of that food, but I'll do what I can. I bought rice and organic nuts. It was great to see the shop and the people! I will come here again! And so should everybody else who lives nearby as far as I am concerned!

The place was unrecognisable!

12 October 2018

Radiators out of the way

When Phil first saw my house he went through it with a forensic eye. He noticed, for instance, that the radiator in the hallway was leaking a bit. I That needed sorting! And it was also in the way for the decorating process. The plasterer was going to have to go through that soon! And the living room too. I called the plumber but as he had to chase some pipes into the wall, and there currently were electricity cables there, he had to wait for the electrician to finish. And when that was done, the plumber didn’t have time anytime soon. Of course! I decided to try to take the radiators down myself. Phil had told me how, and I had done my standard thing: look it up on Youtube. That (and the rest of the web) is such a treasure trove for knowledge! It taught me how to repair my car, my internet wiring, and whatnot. It can make life so much easier! 

When I closed the valve of the hallway radiator it started leaking. Oh dear! I opened it again and paradoxically that solved the problem. And Phil offered to come help. And I accepted the offer.
He had a try too: indeed, that valve wasn’t performing as it should. We would have to get the pressure off! He showed me where the general drainage valve was. He opened it. When the pressure was off, we had another try at the radiator. And it worked! But now we needed stop ends to close off the low dead end pipes. Luckily there is a Screwfix nearby!

My leaky attempt

I drove there. And ended up in a traffic jam; it was the day of the Bangor 10k and half marathon. Which crossed the road. I wasn’t running it, among other things because the route follows my commute. I see that route often enough thank you very much!

Due to the race I was away for a while. When I got back, Phil had already taken the other radiator off too. And made coffee! We put the stop ends in place, and filled the system up with water again. Phil bled the radiators. Then we had some coffee together. Nice! 

Phil's first attempt; still a bit messy



We then checked if everything was OK. Or rather, Phil did. I just paid close attention! He decided all was well and left again. And I made sure to quickly write down everything I had learned! This will come in handy. And now I can go and strip the wallpaper from behind the radiators. I’m still not quite sure how my heating works, but as soon as the plumber finally shows up I’m sure he’ll be able to tell me! And it looks likely he’ll be beaten to it by the stove man. If I have wood burners I am less dependent on central heating!

Another guerilla climbing session

The previous week, I had gone climbing with Glyn on the Friday night. It had been a bit of an ad hoc idea. And this week, he asked me on Thursday. And I thought it was a good idea! And with me knowing in advance I could make sure to bring my climbing kit. I also would be coming by car anyway, as I would pick up my new chair for the office, so that was convenient. I also could pick him up this time!

It was another nice session. He pushed himself far; there was a 6c lead he wanted to do. He tried it once, and fell out near the top. Then he tried it again, thinking he knew where he had gone wrong and hoping he could right it. But no; he fell out again. And at the end of the night he tried it one more time, but by the time he got to that same crux his muscles were too tired. But I'm sure he'll do it next time!

He sent me up one heavily overhanging route I wasn't too sure of. I tried it! And towards the top I got desperate and basically used all the holds I could find. Not elegant but I sort of got to the top! At least I had practiced my stubbornness.

This time we left before the place closed. Good! That meant I could be in bed at a good time. I think the climbing club is forgetting what I look like but such is life!