30 October 2018

Gift that keeps giving

I started eating apples from my own tree in early September. It's almost November and I'm still at it! This is lovely. I tend to walk into the garden early in the morning and pick as many as I want to eat with my lunch. How fresh can your fruit be!

These days, though, I tend to find more apples next to my tree than I can eat during the day. I think the season is coming to an end! But I am sure you can keep apples for a while. I put a basket in a cool part of the house and keep them there. And if it doesn't work I will have to make pies or compote! But this fruit from the garden thing is amazing. I am thinking of buying a walnut tree! That would be a nice addition to the feast.

The tree; of modest height but generous in fruit

One day's harvest

29 October 2018

It's not getting easier

I tend to think that next week, work will not be so busy anymore! I suppose I have to believe it. The previous week had been quite full-on. I figured the one after would be better! But it wasn't. I was already aware I had to process the data of the field trip, and that that was the week I shoudl try to assign all my dissertation students to a topic and supervisor. That seems to be a heck of a lot of work! But then I was reminded of that we also have to submit the exams for the first term. The exams aren't until January, but the external examiners check them beforehand. This way there is still some time to amend them. And I wanted to entirely change one exam!

In the old days, the students were given an article on one of six topics (weird events in palaeoceanographic history) to do an essay and presentation on. James would then talk the articles together to a coherent story. And there would be exam questions about it.

I do it differently; I divide the students into groups (per topic) and have them create the narrative. If they leave something out, I add that. And now all six topics will be in the exam; they weren't before, and the students thought it was unfair that some people would find their presentation topic in the exam, while others wouldn't. They were also afraid that some topics would ot be presented very well; if that would be one of the few topics in the exam that would make things hard. And they were right! So I made sure to put all six topics in. But that meant I need to know everything about every topic, right now. I know I had read up on it (very frantically) the year before, but that still meant I had to brush up on it! So I spent the entire Tuesday, when I didn't have any contact hours, on doing just that. I was in the office by eight (I had driven) and I left at half past seven. I had skipped Welsh. That is an extreme measure!

So when that was out of the way I could focus on topic assignment...

No more breakfast with a view

One of the first things I did in the new house was install a breakfast bar. I have one window with a river view; I wanted to use that! So That's where I had been having breakfast since moving in. With the rather pleasant exception of breakfasts enjoyed in the actual garden.

Days are drawing in though. When I have breakfast now, it's still dark! And that is the end of one's river view. So I have now changed my habit to having breakfast in the kitchen. Logistically easier! And I'll get that view again in spring!

Nothing to see here

26 October 2018

Still not ready for the plasterer

Once the plasterer will be done the house will look profoundly different! It will be an important stage. But a lot needed to happen before he could start. First the electrician should do his thing. Then the plumber. And I needed to have the walls and ceilings ready. That meant: pull out the ceilings, and oil the beams. If you plaster the ceilings without first oiling or waxing or painting the beams, you will struggle to get any plaster off that accidentally (and unavoidably) ended up on it. And all of that is a lot of work, and it especially feels like that if you have a busy job and not much time to work on the house. And the other workmen were difficult to manage!

I first wanted to get the landing ready, so there I first made sure to strip all wallpaper there, and give the ceiling beams two layers of oil. Let's hope it'll be enough! Then I pulled all the wallpaper off the living room. That's finally all done now! But the ceiling STILL only has only one coat of oil. And work is relentless at the moment. Oh well. One day! One day it'll be done...

25 October 2018


The tampering with the heating started in the office. My radiator made a heck of a racket! And in the end I decided to bleed it. That shut the thing up. (And so far it can keep up with the heat lost! So far I'm chuffed with my office insulation.)

That weekend I also figured I should pay attention to the heating at home. It had worked initially, but some time ago it seemed to have switched itself off, for no apparent reason. And doing something about it had always ended up at the bottom of my to do list. The weather wasn't cold enough yet to make it a priority! But I figured I had to make sure I worked it out before the weather would turn cold, as it inevitably would.

I googled a bit what can go wrong with heating. It was only the heating; the shower worked fine! And it lead me to focus on the thermostat. I pried it open. Maybe the batteries were empty? I took them out. Aha! One of the contacts was very corroded. Maybe that was the problem! I cleaned that and put new batteries in and le voila: the heating came on. Success!

In the following days I hoped the thermostat would just work. It didn't! I think the remaining problem is that something about the timer is wrong. I have now got into the habit of switching it on 'daytime temperature' when I want it on and 'nighttime temperature' when I want if off. I'm not sure I want a thermostat in the long run! What about just adjusting the heating in the individual rooms? Using the knobs of the individual radiators?

Either way, the heating does work and I know how to switch it on. The details can be sorted later! The plumber is imminent anyway; that might change things. The house will be getting homelier as time moves along!

24 October 2018

Trip with PCG

In the middle of hectic teaching I got an email from Lionel that the PCG would be in town again! That's always nice. And I figured I would probably need a break by the time they arrived.

On Wednesday Lionel already phoned me. He was already there! Blimey. I was still working! He said he would spend the next day in the mountains. A good choice! The forecast was lovely.

On Friday I texted him. What about meeting up for dinner? He said yes, and suggested the Pint and Pizza place (officially known as Gallt y Glyn) in Llanberis. I had met him and Rick there too the previous time I had met him! So I phoned the place; they were busy until 8.30. Oh dear. But it was half term in England and North Wales was likely rather busy. So every other place would probably be as busy! I booked it. We could just have a drink while waiting for our table.

I got there shortly after 7. Lionel had said the PCG folk would be there about 6:30. But no sign of them! I phoned him and found out there had been some confusion; Lionel thought we had the table until 8:30, not from 8:30. But they would come my way. Oh well. I managed to use my time usefully. And after a while a bloke came up to me, asking if I was Margot; I was! It turned out he was part of the party but travelling independently. His name was Dave. I had been warned against the overabundance of Daves; the PCG delegation would be three guys called Dave, and Lionel, and one lady called Fran I hadn't met before. So now I had met the 'new' Dave. We chatted until the others arrived.

It was good to see Lionel and the other Daves! It always is. And it was nice to meet Fran. We caught up and had pizza. Then I was tired and wanted to go to bed! We had decided on a venue for the next day. A mine I liked and the others had never visited!

The next day I got ready and set off. Then I turned my car around as I realised I had forgot my boots. I fetched them and was still the first one to get to the meeting point. Typical! But I should have known. Dave isn't known as 'the late Mr Warne' for nothing. But after a while we were all there. More than I expected! When Dave arrived, good old Richard appeared from his car. That was a surprise! But Dave wasn't feeling too well. Oh dear that happens more often. He decided not to go. I didn't think he'd like the walk to the entrance.

With the group of six we walked up. The walking speeds varied a bit! But in the end we all got there. And got kitted. And went in. And then we just explored. We didn't really have a plan; we just checked out all passages. We spent a long time on the floor you come in on! A lot to see. We didn't see the beautiful wheelbarrow we Thursdaynighters had found the previous time we had been there. The PCG didn't like the ascent!

When we were about done there I suggested we do the top floor first and the bottom floor last; it has impressive woodwork. And the others agreed! We lost one Dave along the way for a while, but found him back. And I found 'the ladder of God' again! I had seen it before but hadn't had my camera on me. Or maybe not enough light. I like how it seems to just dangle in mid-air without being attached to anything. Must be held up by divine powers!

 Not a very clear picture but do notice the ladder in the distance

Richard on a pretty ore chute

The others were impressed by the woodwork on the ground floor. But when they had seen it they were keen to get out. Big Dave would be bored by now. And both Richard and Lionel had left their lunch in Dave's car! Oh dear. So we went out. And ate some lunch! While waiting for the slowest Dave. But before he appeared, Richard and Lionel went off to have a look at some surface archaeology. After a while they phoned; it was really worth it! So we all stumbled up the hill again, lumbering through the brambles. And it was indeed worth it! Lots of big walls, one above the other, holding back settling ponds (presumably).

 Changing and washing at the stream

One of the walls in the woods

In the end we went down again. And again waited for the slowest Dave. And then went for a cup of tea in Cafe Siabod. And then we said goodbye. I wouldn't meet up with them the next day; my to do list was a kilometer long. And I also needed my sleep to be ready for another tough day at work. But they will be back!

23 October 2018

Dig made safer

A long time ago Miles had used a bit too much explosives to make the passage wider (I think this time) and it had taken a bit of work to make everything safe again. But there were still cracks that slowly opened and there was one I was worried about. We hadn't got around to doing something about it but we couldn't postpone it forever! So this week we sorted it.

I arrived a bit late (teaching) but found Miles down there with all the tools and things. Almost. He knew there were bolts in the dig so he hadn't brought many of these. But where were they? In the end I found them at the top in the end and we could proceed. Miles had a bit of a job finding a spot with good enough rock to bolt the scaff bar into the wall. Or make the rock good enough by removing the flaky bits. But in the end he managed to fit the bar in a very reassuring way! I feel better now.

With all that we didn't actually end up digging. We cleared up the entrance a bit! And had a tea break; I was hungry. But now the dig is ready for another good session!

22 October 2018

Start of the dissertation module

I was a bit nervous about this one! Dissertations are important. The students agree with that. It is pretty much the pinnacle of your BSc education, and it showcases your abilities to do independent work. And being in charge of it all (after the previous module leader retiring) gave me a bit of a headache. But to be honest, most things I'm responsible for for the first time give me a bit of a headache.

One of the first things that needed doing was making sure I had everybody on the module website who would be supervising students, and nobody who wouldn't. I mailed the people who had been  listed last year as supervisors if they wanted to be on it this year, and I mailed those who hadn’t  (and who I thought would be possible candidate) if they wanted to be added. There was some faff with some people who didn’t respond, who wanted but weren’t eligible, who were in two minds or who I had forgot (oh dear). I was still adding and deleting people until the day the students started choosing. In the end the site went up!

Then I gave a lecture about the dissertation module. It went OK, I think! And afterwards two ladies walked up to me. They were doing a combined Ocean Sciences and Biology degree and wanted to be able to choose biological topics. Oh dear, I had not been prepared for that! But I was in Bangor anyway, and I popped by the bloke who organises the biological dissertations. And we sorted something out.

Then there was the first issue. I heard from the staff-student liaison officer the students weren't happy that if several students wanted to do the same topic, I would take the grade they had received in the science communication module into account. As far as I know this has always been the case. But they thought it was unfair. They also thought they should have known this in advance. I agree with the latter statement! So the module organiser of that module should make it clear. And if he doesn't, we should. Regarding the first point though; one needs some criterion, it has to be traceable (if I can't justify my choices I am open to accusations of nepotism), it can't encourage low grades, and it has to be limited in how much time it takes. That sort of limits the options! Luckily the students agreed with that.

Then one of the staff who had indicated he would be happy to take on students threw a wobbly and wasn't sure if he could. He wanted to hear from the Head of School he was eligible; my word didn't suffice. And he didn't want to ask himself. Sigh! But the HoS was rapid in his response and the staff member is on board.

Another issue was that I needed to find two days in timetabling for the student presentations. Somehow this event wasn't there in last year's timetabling request. And as it doesn't take place on campus I don't need a room for it. But I need all the students, evidently! That was a bit stressy too. But I sorted it. With the timetabling people. They are always very helpful!

Soon I will have to assign a topic to all 130 of the students! I hope that won't be too tricky! And then things should be fairly quiet until the next term starts...

21 October 2018

Storm damage

I had biked to work over an obstacle course; I had to duck under numerous trees, or ride around them, or carry my bike over them. But it hadn't ocurred to me to check my own garden! So when I stepped outside to get some apples I was surprised my half a tree prostrate on the lawn. Oh dear! Time to get my bow saw out and tidy up. I didn't get it all done before dark, but at least I cut the thick bits into manageable sizes. Leave it to dry for a year and I have firewood! Now I only need a wood burner...

20 October 2018

Bicycle path becomes obstacle course

When a storm hits, trees fall over! It's just one of those things. So when I turned into the bicycle path to work I was not too surprised to bump into another cyclist who warned me that there were several trees lying on or over the path. And so there were! I took pictures of the first four and then I got fed up. I think the council has some work on their hands! 

19 October 2018

Day of working at home

It was one of those weeks! There was just so much going on that when I reached the weekend I figured I needed it to make sure I would get through the week after as well. Luckily it was a very awful day, weatherwise. Sitting indoors at your desk is not so bad if it's raining all day! And I got a lot done. And if I survive two more weeks of this I have reached reading week and will actually scoot off for a long weekend!

View from my home office (this is not the side with the pretty river view)

18 October 2018

Proper autumn

The leaves were turning, the beech trees dropped their mast on the cycle path, evenings were short. It was clearly autumn already! But one day, after a very Indian Summery few days, storm Callum hit Wales. And then it was proper autumn!

On the Friday I drove to work; the weather was atrocious, and I would have dinner with Jaco and Marjan in the evening, and I figured I wouldn't be keen on biking all the way back through a storm at night. I do have a bike in the office, though, so when I had to go to Bangor to teach I could choose. Bike or drive? The wind was howling around the office but I figured it might just sound bad. I took out the bike.

When I got outside I realised it really was as bad as it sounded, but I decided to give it a go anyway. It was a bit of a challenge! I had only gone some 100m when I was blown off the road onto the pavement. Oh dear. But no harm done. I made it to the bridge! And walked across. No point trying to bike it in weather like that. And from the bridge it was OK. Made it!

Biking back I walked two more stretches as the wind was really strong. But I got back to the office unharmed. And later I drove to Jaco's, through the dark streets; the streetlights weren't working so I suspected a power failure. They had had one themselves, but at least in the house the power was back on.

I had been right about not wanting to ride back through the wet night. The weather was still pretty bad! And I was very tired after a hectic week. And I was a bit alarmed by a sign on the A55 saying 'A5 closed Bethesda' but the closure must have been cleared up by the time I got to the village. I got home OK! I later saw a mention on the BBC website about a landslide on the road but that must have been cleared rather fast.

The next morning the river was the highest I had seen. Over breakfast I saw a whole clutch of kayakers shoot past! That looked like a lot of fun. More followed through the day. And the drainage clearly struggled; water was squirting from underneath manhole covers. And the drain in my porch-like-extension-to-the-kitchen was gargling and burping and making unpleasant smells but it did keep the water out.



The drains can't cope

I also had to go and hunt for my bins. The big general waste bin is chained up, so that doesn't go anywhere, but my food waste bin had gone scampering (in two bits), and my recycling bin (which is a stack of three bins on a trolley) had lost its top third. I found everything back though! I should think about securing them better. And with all that I think it's really really autumn now! And this first autumn test of the house with me in it has been successful. I really hope I get a log burner soon. Then I can enjoy it even more!

Trying week

At the end of the week I was quite tired! But I don't think that's unexpected. It's a busy time! I have to prepare my lectures as I go along; in summer I was busier with new lectures (mainly for the second semester) and organisation of new modules. And marking this, that and the other. And there is a lot more happening,

On Monday I had a reasonably quiet day. Good! But Tuesday the week sped up to trying velocities. I went into the field with the students. I am responsible; I do get people helping me, but I have to keep an eye on if everything works the way it should. And sometimes the people helping you out don't have an equally keen eye on things that may be going wrong. You are quite alert the entire time! That evening I had Welsh class. A long day, altogether!

The next day I had been dreading a bit: it would start at 9AM with a two hour lecture for Lynda. Lecturing stuff you don't know an awful lot about, and of which you haven't made the slides, and for which you didn't get a lot of time to prepare is not very inspiring! I did it but didn't feel very good about it.

I then had a lecture of my own in the same lecture theatre. That was better! At least I had made these slides. And there was enough time in between lectures to go to the loo and get a coffee refill.

Then I had a tutorial with my own students. That was fun! But at the end of it, I had half an hour to get to Menai Bridge and get ready for a meeting. Oh dear. I managed to rush to the office, and cram two sandwiches into my system before the meeting started.

The meeting was supposed to be finished by half past three. It wasn't! It kept going. At some point I had to leave to go to the loo. You can only hold it so long! And then finally, at a quarter past four, we were done. My brain was fried. But two of the other participants of the meeting immediately came up to me. One wanted to discuss a grade for a MSc thesis. The other one wanted to talk through the meeting the next day; we would be presenting some stuff to all the other staff. Better know what we were talking about!

It was a quarter to five when we were done. Finally I could eat and drink something without hurry, and have a look at my emails.

The Thursday and Friday weren't particularly busy with contact hours, but there was a lot to do: I had to collate and process the data gathered during the field day; I had to collate the results from an online test I had set; I had to prepare for the Open Day that would take place that Sunday, and I had to prepare a lecture for the dissertation students. And prepare the next of Lynda's lectures. And do all other things that come in between; mark a PGCertHE portfolio, give a student feedback on a draft essay, prepare the upcoming lectures, process the outcomes of the meeting we had had. A long week! And the weekend would involve quite some work too. But hopefully, things will be getting better after that. At some point I will have been done with my lectures and then I have more time for the assignment work that has to happen too!

17 October 2018


Another night in the dig! And a successful one. We got rid of another rock. It's only one, and there are countless many to go still, but progress is progress!

What we haven't made any progress in is making the route up safer. We really should have a look at that. It's a bit tedious but it could make a very big difference! We also should spend some time on clearing rubble from the entrance. We're clogging it up. It's tempting to keep our focus on the glamorous coal face, but we should be sensible and take care of the drudgery too!

And it is a bit hard to keep writing in an engaging way about a project that can have so little to show for itself over such long periods of time, but well, that also means I can keep things brief. There's plenty to write about in other areas of life!

From marked to marker

Only last year I received my PGCertHE (my teaching qualification). This late summer, a call went out, asking people to volunteer to mark the portfolios of the next cohort of aspiring university lecturers. I answered. So I was assigned three portfolios; two from Heathcare and one from Geography. It was very interesting to read them! And mark them. One of the healthcare portfolios was, well, interesting at a somewhat physical level; the writer had been extensively teaching would care. And the portfolio was lavishly illustrated. Not something you want to read before breakfast to be honest!

It is yet more work in addition to all the rest but well, someone's gotta do it. And they do make things fairly easy on you with a clear marking scheme! And as well, you can learn a thing or two reading those. People have very interesting ideas on how to do some innovative teaching! But I won't go back to these pictures of wounds...

16 October 2018


Lecturing from someone else's lecture slides is a bit of a bore! But sometimes it has to be done. With Lynda ill and her Geohazard lectures having to be covered with little notice meant I had little choice. I already had to reformat her slides; she had put them online in PDF format, and someone had managed to put them back in PPT format, but with two slides per slide. So I had to manually split them again. A faff! And then figure out what was on them. And look up what they were about if I didn't initially. I couldn't spend to much time on that; I didn't want my own teaching to suffer.

The first lecture was rather theoretical; what is a geohazard? How do you study them? How have people dealt with them in the past (from an engineering, behavioural, development and complexity point of view, I'll have you know)? What's the difference between sustainability and complexity science? It was all rather social science-y for me. I did my best on it. It wasn't very inspired!

The next lecture is on a historical perspective; then I can talk about things such as the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and the Tambora eruption, and the Aberfan slide, and whatnot! Much more to my liking. I lecture about volcanoes anyway as they are so important to climate. And earthquakes are related! And maybe Lynda will be back before I have to do the more specific lectures. We'll see!

File:MSH80 mailboxes along cowlitz river 1980.jpg
 Mailboxes sticking out of a mudflow caused by the Mt St Helens eruption

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

Second 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!

11 October 2018

Addition to the office

I spend a lot of my time at work. It’s worth making that time as comfortable as possible! I, for instance, have a mouse on the left and a digitisation tablet on the right; that spreads the strain over both my arms and helps avoid. RSI. And I have speakers; if I am doing mindless data processing I can listen to music. And I tried to make my office warm. And I tucked my bikes into the corner. But there was something still on my wish list: a comfortable chair. I like comfortable chairs! Not just any chair will do. 

One day when I had two lectures in Bangor with quite some time in between I popped to the second-hand shop in town. They had a chair quite like the one I have in the kitchen! It’s pretty much the smallest chair of sufficiently comfort you can buy. My office doesn’t have enormous amounts of space left. So I bought it! I was on bicycle so I came back the next day to pick it up. Now it’s in the office! If I can do work in a comfortable chair I can pretty much also do them at home, but now I have that chair there for when I have to do small reading tasks. I don’t need to do these sitting up in a desk chair! I’m chuffed. 

Ready to be taken to Menai Bridge

It's there!