thoughts

Clyde Region Explorer Belt – Reflections

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After possibly the most manic and surreal 3 weeks of my life I’m home from the Clyde Region Explorer Belt.

We have had such an amazing time, it feels like so much longer than 3 weeks ago we were wandering around the Smithsonian.  So much has been achieved in those 3 week, participants have walked 4900+ miles on Explorer Belt Treks, leaders drove over 3000 miles visiting them and we have encountered Racoons, Bear, Monkeys, Spiders and too many flies to mention but most of all we have encountered the amazing generosity of the American people who too so many of our groups into their homes for the night, fed them, gave them a bed and even washed their clothes.  Our thanks go out to every one of them along with the businesses, fire departments, sheriffs and churches who also supported the team.  Without your generosity the Explorer Belt would not have been what it was, truly special.

There will be so many stories which I’m sure the participants will be telling for years to come (and some I’m sure they won’t be telling!!)

To the participants – thank you for making it such an enjoyable experience, the past 24 months have been hectic to say the lease but every minute was worth it to hear the stories and see you all back in Harpers Ferry when you had completed the hike.  Well done everyone.

To the leaders, it was a pleasure working with you all, thank you for giving me the chance to be part of such an amazing experience, there was never a dull moment with you around.  To John Raffery, Kevin O’Gorman, Paul Crolla, Louise Drain, Diane Swan and Robert Hay, when are we doing it again?

Life always sneaks up on you

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This post was supposed to start with “if you’ve just got your exam results and they weren’t what you were expecting, don’t panic” but it’s taken me so long to get round to writing it that that would be a pointless opening.  Instead you get that rambling.

Life is just one damned thing after another – Elbert Hubbard

And he was totally right, it doesn’t stop because you’re exam results aren’t right.

I’ve never known what I want to do with my life and to be honest I still don’t.  When I was in primary one I apparently didn’t like learning to count, or so my teacher told me in primary 7.  Through school I was never in the top class for anything when they were split that way.  Was never the best at anything, I’m still not.  Somehow I’ve gone from not liking counting to having a Masters Degree in Physics and (soon) a Masters in Power Plant Engineering and have a job working for Doosan Power Systems, a big power engineering company.  Definitely not where I expected to be just before my 26th birthday.

My choices have always been a bit off plan so it were.  I always thought I wanted to do something but the would suddenly change my mind.  In school I wanted to be a forensic scientist so I tool biology in 6th year but couldn’t stand the teacher so dropped it again.   Doing applications for uni I looked at the place which do forensic science and only applied for physics on a whim at the end of the application.  Exam marks came back and I decided that physics was what I wanted to do after that.

End of 4th year of physics and I still had a year to go and no idea what I wanted to do and started to wonder if I made the right decision doing physics, should I have been an engineer?

Queue job applications, applying for engineering jobs because I’ve got transferable skills and that’s what people really look for… no dice, probably mostly cause I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  After a year of working at an outdoor centre I decided to go back to uni and do something to make myself more desirable and 2 days ago I started working for an engineering company in NDT which is primarily physics based, so after all that I’m pretty much back where I started.

So that’s my tale of how I ended up where I am today so don’t worry if you don’t know what you want, something will always come up.  Life is what you make of it.  Enjoy it.

Starting University?

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Are you starting university in September?

There are lots of people out there who will try to tell you what it’s like and what to do.  I’m not going to go that far but having been a student for 7 out of the last 8 years I have a few little bits of wisdom to share with you.

Freshers week is for making friends and having fun, make the most of it, go to the bars have a few drink and meet loads of people but don’t forget who they are the next day.   While the bars and night stuff is great don’t forget about the stuff during the day too, join a club, join a sport, take up something new, carry on with something old.  This is your chance to try new things, take them, you never know what you might find.

After freshers the fun doesn’t have to stop, remember to get out and have fun as well as going to classes.

Starting classes is always daunting, especially if it’s in something completely new but most people are in the same boat.  Don’t panic if you don’t know you’re timetable before the classes start so long as you know when and where the first one is the rest will become clear, maybe.  Chances are the lecturer won’t know much more than you about the timetable.

Staff are not scary people, the vast majority are there because they want to be and because they want you to succeed.  If you don’t understand something, ask questions.  If you’re confused, ask questions.

You’ll be assigned an advisor of studies who will help you pick classes and help you through but don’t be afraid to ask other lecturers for help.

Get to know the departmental secretary, no-one knows the department better.  They are the best source of information and can do great favours for you.

A piece of advice I got from a lecturer is second year.

If you’re going to be one of those students who doesn’t turn up to classes at least turn up to the first and last.  The first is where you find out what you will learn and how it is assessed and the last is where I cram in what’s in the exam and I haven’t managed to teach yet.

It might be slightly paraphrased but the general idea is there.  I’m not saying you don’t have to go to classes, you will learn things there which you can’t learn from the books and the enthusiasm of the lecturers won’t be there.

Tutorials are great, don’t get me wrong they can be boring and may seem pointless but they are the best way to learn and you never know what questions might turn up in the exam 😉

Don’t  leave things to the last minute.  This goes for assignments and studying for exams. They are best done early, this gives you time to look over it and make the best of it. It also save a huge amount of stress the night before.

Anyway, get out and enjoy yourselves.

I got a Job

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I’ve finally got a job.  I’m a graduate trainee at Doosan Power Systems, well I will be on the 30th of August.

I get to spend 2 years sampling different bits of the business before deciding where I want to end up.  After 2 more years doing that I will be a, something, “real” employee, not sure, lol.

Other than getting a job, I’m working on my summer placement in the uni.  I’m testing the strength of climbing ropes under different belay conditions.  Just trying to get time in the lab at the moment as someone else has decided to use the same machine and timings are difficult.  It’s interesting stuff though 😛

Hmm, social life? Been ok, pub trips as usual, night out where I realised I definitely made the right decision about something I was second guessing myself over.  Maybe a couple of things I’m not happy with but they’ll be sorted out.

Not been reading much but did go and see MIB3, its really good, just don’t over complicate it by thinking about the time travel to much like I did.

Friends

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Friends aren’t always the people you see everyday, or every week, or even every month… They are, however the people who are always there and sometimes it’s the friends who come though the strangest circumstances who are the best 🙂

We’re going on a Bear hunt

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As some of you may know Bear Grylls in the Chief Scout of the UK and he has made it his mission to visit as many beavers, cubs, scouts, explorers and network as possible in his time as Chief Scout.

A couple of weeks ago it was Scotland’s turn to welcome him with events being run all over the country.  I’ve been on the service team at Fordell Firs for a few years now and after working there for 18months I became a bit disillusioned with it all when I left in September and nearly didn’t go back but Bear’s visit happened to coincide with me finishing my uni assignments and I decided to go back.  So glad I did.

Got the chance to meet Bear, however briefly, and he is a really genuinely nice guy.   He spent about 40min walking round the site meeting with as many people as possibly before having a go on our king swing and bringing a whole new meaning to Bear in the Air.

To top it all off, my mate won tickets to see him live, in Cardiff!!  So a road trip was needed, took the tent and camped in the middle of Cardiff, who’d have thought of a campsite in the middle of the city but thankfully it was.  The show itself was a kinda chat show affair with Gethin Jones hosting.  The stories were brilliant and show how ‘normal’ Bear is, such as the story about sharing the bath with his two kids and a couple of rubber ducks.

 

Ups, downs and roundabouts

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Lots of ups and downs over the last few weeks and to be honest there haven’t been any roundabouts but it made a better title than just ups and downs.

Last weekend was amazing, this weekend is shaping up to be quite good too but the bit in the middle was very odd, even for me.

Last weekend I went to see the Muppets and spent the whole time laughing, it is amazing. If you haven’t seen it you’d better get a move on and go.

Sunday night I went to a gig with someone who is fast becoming one of my best friends, love her to bits.  After a few missed trains and other transport issues we finally got to Oran Mor.  The gig itself was the Jezabels who are hard to describe but alternative/indie rock just about covers it.  They were supported by the John McIain Band who were brilliant as well (The saxophone sold it to me from the off).  Another missed train, entirely our own fault for going to the pub between gig finishing and train leaving, and a taxi back to town then home via another pub…

Monday morning I was a bit slow on the up and poor Hayley had been up for a couple of hours trying to work the TV then we headed off climbing.  A good session and lunch to boot :).

Monday night I had a sever case of the post weekend blues and just felt generally rubbish for some reason this carried on for most of the week and a lot of stuff has been buzzing about in my head and I’ve been generally a bit lost.  This was all changed last night with a good night in the pub with the usual bunch and a few who have been away for a while.  Funny how you don’t really miss someone until they come back then you realise you have missed them for whatever reason.

Tonight is a flat party the off to the Garage with the same bunch from last night (give or take a few), should be good 🙂

That’s enough of the rambling for just now.

Everything happens at once

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So, you bumble along in life and things just happen then one day you stop and think… It’s only then that you discover just how much you do and what you’ve agreed to do.

My life needs to slow down a bit at the moment. Everything seemed to be happening at once, thankfully it seems to be calmed down a bit now. Uni stuff went skewee for a while which put my holiday in April in doubt for a bit, it’s all sorted now back on the modules I’m meant to be on and can now go on holiday.

Second thing that happened was spending most of last week catching up with friends which involved spending too much money and drinking too much alcohol but it was totally worth it even if my body was objecting by the end of the week, need to do it more often but maybe not all in the one week.

Finally and most exciting thing is I am now the expedition team for Project X!!! 🙂 Project X is the Clyde region scout explorer belt expedition to the east coast of America in summer 2013. The expedition is taking 57 explorer and network scouts to Washington for a couple of days, they will then set off on a 10 day hike down the Appalachian trail then onto a jamboree in Florida for a week.

If anyone is wondering how I ended up involved in this, blame a train journey with the organiser and my big mouth! Semi jokingly asked if they still needed leaders and was told if I was interested he’d see what he could do, 3 days later it’s all done and I’m signed up for it. 18 months of hard training and fundraising ahead but it’s a once in a lifetime experience (or hopefully a first of many in a lifetime for me). So, expect this blog to be inundated with waffle about project x and all associated stuff.

For anyone who’s read my blog before you will have noticed that the book reviews have dropped off a bit, this is mostly because the only things I’ve been reading are lecture notes and I doubt anyone would ever want to read a review of them.

Nights like last night

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Nights like last night don’t come about too often but when they do they make everything else in life worthwhile.

Last night consisted of friends, food, drink and an amazing selection of music.

So what made last night so different to other night involving all the same thing? Well I’ll tell you, it’s the fact that we were (almost) all back together for the first time since we left Uni. It’s not often we can get our amazing bunch of friends all in one place at the same time. Since leaving Uni we’ve been spread out from Aberdeen to Derby and haven’t seen nearly enough of each other but it was like we’d never been apart and that’s the value of a true friendship.

Some of us barely speak to each other over the year but it’s as if we talk everyday when we’re back together, I love it, of course I would love to see them more but that’s not going to happen.

The people in this post know who they are and so do the ones who were missing, you’d better make it next time :p. You are all amazing and I don’t know what life would be like without you and I don’t want to.

P.s. that’s the mushy stuff over, normal service will resume in the next blog.

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