16 February 2020

First Open Day of 2020

One down, three to go! We had the first Open Day of the calendar year. These are Open Days for people who have registered at up to five universities, know which one of these have given them an offer, and now have to make up their mind which offer to accept. And I was a bit nervous about it! One reason was: it was the first, so I hadn't done one in almost a year, and the other was: the weather. Storm Dennis would be out there! Would people show up? Would they be able to get back? Anyone who had kept an eye on that sort of thing knew that there had been travel disruptions when Dennis' sister Ciara had raged only the week before. We would have to see!

I had made a draft group allocation and schedule of which group would see which demo when. But I can only finalise that when I know who really is coming! And that means: I can only do that when the visitors are here. And that means the pressure is on. The visitors get a welcome talk by the Head of School and then they have lunch. And then they go off in their groups!

This time I was nervous as I had lots of demonstrations, and some people setting up nicely in advance so I knew all would be well, but some were nowhere to be seen, even when the visitors were almost there. That gave me some stress! Luckily, all worked out. Everyone showed up and did their thing! And we had all sorts: scallops, snails, ocean circulation, dolphins, the deep sea, flocculation, etc etc. (No we did not have any actual dolphins in there but we had a demo about them.) I would have enjoyed it I'm sure.

File:Epitonium billeeanum (Wentletrap).jpg
 Not our snails! But a nice picture (by Nick Hobgood)

There also was no sign of traffic chaos. Great! I had been scared the new bridge would be closed to high-sided vehicles due to the wind, causing great traffic jams. If the lorries have to come over the old bridge they tend to have to go at snail pace through the arches, and manually pull in their wind mirrors, as it only JUST fits. And then all other traffic is stuck behind that! But it seemed that only motorbikes and caravans were banned from the new bridge, so the buses could go that way. Without any difficulty!

When the visitors appeared I did my hasty fine-tuning of the schedule. Some people had looked at the forecast and let our admissions team know they had decided to come to a different Open Day. There were still some we expected who weren't there and one who was there but whom we didn't expect, but strangely enough, less so than normal. I printed out the schedules and handed them out. And then I set everyone on their way!

There was one group who went to the wrong demo so I had to re-tweak the schedule again and find the other group with which they would swap. And then it was around 2pm and I could go and have a sandwich myself. I can never have lunch when the others do, which is OK, but if I don't drink for too long I wear myself out. If I leave it too late I feel bad the rest of the day! And that had happened. I think I need to have a water bottle near next time.

Once it was rolling it rolled! In spite of the weather, I think people had a good time. And next week we can do it again, and then better!

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