A weekend away… Herne Bay and Whistable

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This post is only seven weeks late… but hey ho, I’m going to write it anyway for me.

A couple of weeks before I started my MSc back at the University of East Anglia, Matt and I took a short break to Herne Bay to somewhat relax before the work began!

We booked the cutest old fisherman’s hut, The Nook, which was small yet cozy with everything we could possibly need for a weekend. The owner, Eve, was extremely welcoming and thought of everything. We arrived to find a lovely hamper which contained more than enough for breakfast and a very nice bottle of wine (which we drank before I had a chance to take a picture)! If you’re ever that way I highly recommend staying at the Nook, Unless you’re tall… then maybe you wont quite fit inside the cottage…

Matt and I are both keen walkers, so we decided to walk from Herne Bay to Whistable via West Blean, Thornden and Clowes wood, which I highly recommend. It was a beautifully sunny weekend, which definitely helped! Whistable it a really cute little seaside town with lots of interesting little shops and cafes, well worth a visit.

Once we’d cooled down from the long walk and explored Whistable a little, we strolled along the seafront following the Saxon Shore Way back to Herne Bay. We of course stopped for fish and chips along the way (You have to when you’re at the seaside, don’t you!). When we returned to the Nook, I’m pretty sure we both collapsed, so tired we didn’t even manage to finish our glasses of wine!

The following morning, we had to say goodbye to the cozy fisherman’s hut, however, before we left Herne Bay we set out in search for a cooked breakfast! We’d heard about a vegetarian  cafe in the town, however after hunting it down we fount it to be closed! We ended up eating at The Pantry, literally around the corner from the Nook!

Once last stop before the journey back to Norwich was Reculver Towers and Roman Fort! A beautiful and interesting little spot, with and exceptionally cheap car park for an English Heritage site! And that was it, our weekend away. Now I’m at the beginning of week six of my masters degree, swamped with work wishing I could be enjoying the weekend back by the seaside. Hence the delayed reminiscing post!

E x

Sun, snow and rock climbing?

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Hello guys!

As always, I must apologise fort he lack of posts, after a stunning weekend in the peak district I was inspired! How could I not share this beauty!

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Over the past academic year I have taken up climbing with the UEA climbing club and I love it! So after the stress of my dissertation was finally over, I jumped at the opportunity to give it a go outside when the club ran a beginners trip! So, a couple of weekends ago, I bundled in the minibus with the eleven others and began the journey to the Roaches in the Peak District!

We arrived in the snow at the Don Whillans Memorial Hut late at night, unable to fully appreciate how awesome it looked until the next morning. We bundled into the kitchen, which was built into the rock itself, and enjoyed an evening drinking beer and getting to know each other, deliberating whether it’d be dry enough to climb the next day! Unfortunatly, it wasn’t! However, as you can see, it was stunning, and it turns out, bouldering pads make pretty good sledges! So we set out, wrapped up warm to explore!

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Finally, in the afternoon it brightened up and we managed to climb! The hut was minutes from the nearest climbs, so it wasn’t far for us at all!  Once the leader had set the ropes (theres no way I’m anywhere near that good yet!) we gave it a go! It was so much fun, freezing cold, in minutes of putting on flimsy climbing shoes and taking off my gloves, I could barely feel my fingers and toes! But, I made it to the top and had so much fun doing so!

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It wasn’t long before we were all too cold to climb and we retreated inside for food and an evening of veggie chilli and drinking games, retreating to our alpine style bunks once the beer had run out! After another coating of snow overnight, the next morning was again to wet to climb! However we strolled up to some bouldering problems, which were surrounded by bog! Unfortunately a few were claimed by the bog man (he has his own song now, the bogra is a work in progress!) but I managed to complete my first outside bouldering problems. I definitely prefer bouldering inside, outside I’m still undecided!

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After a few more chilly hours and more bogman casualties, we retreated back to the minibus and ended our snowy climbing adventure! It was without a doubt one of my favourite weekends of my final year at UEA, thank you so much to the UEA Climbing Club and everyone else who came along!

Much Love!

E x

Home again, a month late!

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Yet again I have failed epically at following up with my blog. Well done Esmee!

So, I’ve been home for a month now (that’s how rubbish I am!). I must say, I was pretty glad to be back on dry land! Not that I don’t enjoy my job! I love working offshore, but I missed my home comforts! My double bed, in a room which doesn’t creek all night, food I actually want to eat! But I must say… It was so quiet at first! I was so used to there being people around all the time!

The last few days on board we’re pretty hectic! The Geo is in charge of organising all the data to be sent back to the office, so it was a day of getting data backups from other departments and making sure all our projects were complete and included all the necessary data! Not very exciting I’m afraid! We made it back into port 6 am on the Friday morning, yes, that meant a wonderful wake up call from the bow thrusters… I was not happy, but hey ho! No more being in shift for me, I was up at 7 am, ready to help finalise the job. It was both sad and exciting saying goodbye. When you live with people in such close confinement for periods of time, you just adjust to being around them and make really good friends. But the idea of my own bed and going out for dinner with my beautiful friend Meg was more of a draw! (Sorry Rhi if you’re reading this, who is finally off the Vigilant!)

One more stop, back at the office to data drop and handover, and then I was finally home! And out the door again within the hour! I didn’t want to fall sleep at 4 pm so Meg and I went to do a spot of shopping before over indulging in food!

So, for anyone who knows me, they know I’m generally sporting a nice variety of bruises due to being pretty clumsy. Well, this mixed offshore meant I had an even larger variety of bruises, but mixed with being back on land for the first time, felling slightly land sick (I swear this is a real thing) my clumsiness reached a new low, where I managed to not only drop a shampoo bottle on the floor of superdrug and break the catch, but smash a bottle of red, yes red, nail varnish all over the floor! I was so embarrassed… and covered in nail varnish! Opps! 


I’ve been so busy since I’ve been back. I’ve been working in the office writing the reports for the jobs I worked on offshore, my last one went today! How exciting. I’ve also run the race for like, been to Radio 1’s  Big Weekend, UEA’s Pimp My Barrow, spent  couple of days at home with my family, caught up with friends and met my friend Aimee’s gorgeous baby boy! Its been a busy month. Maybe I’ll catch you up in a blog post. I’m going to try and get into blogging a lot more!


E x

Folded PJ’s and weather down time…

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30/04/2015

01:30

I’ve just returned to my cabin to find that its been cleaned and my bedding changed!!! Which is a nice surprise… (On the researcher, I had to ask the steward for clean bedding) I must also add that my pyjamas and some other clothing I had left on my bed had been folded… not sure if I find this weird or not… I think I do.. but hey ho, I have a clean cabin!

We’ve spent a majority of today down on weather, this basically means we’re not acquiring anymore data because the quality is being affected by the weather… But no sitting around for me like I could on the Researcher, I had 79 PDFs to annotate and some interpretation to catch up on. There’s nothing really exciting to report, my PPE made another rare appearance when I went out on deck to help an engineer set up some equipment. Ohh… I actually got a vegetarian meal today!!! NO FISH! This made me pretty happy. But I’ve finished my supply of Reeces peanut butter cups… I’ve eaten so much junk on here, there’s just piles of chocolate and crisps and ice-cream! The magnums and the lion bars are my weakness at the moment!

Anyway, I can hear the sound of the pinger ticking away, so we’re obviously running lines again, so I better attempt to get a good nights sleep before tomorrow! It can be pretty noisy on board, there’s a really annoying creak in my cabin and I forgot my earplugs, but I’ve found just wearing my headphones at night helps a tad!

30/04/2015

22:18

So, we’re down on weather again! I’ve spent 10 hours of my shift sorting out data etc etc and its got to the point where I’m pretty much just making stuff up to do…

04/05/2015

00:59

Well my last attempt to write got interrupted by Game of Thrones, we were down on weather and I’d spent my whole shift up to that point at my desk so I decided I was allowed to join everyone else who was using the weather time to watch TV!

I find it quite difficult deciding what to do when we’re down on weather, which we have been all of my shift just passed and the tail end of my last shift. There’s quite a lot to do as the Geo, even when we’re not running lines, especially as the site we’re currently working on seems to be presenting us with hundreds of boulders to pick! Fuuuunn… But yeah, today, my whole shift has been down on weather and, I spent half of it, if not more at my desk, catching up with interpretation and organizing data, but then it just got to the point where, with everyone else watching tv, I felt I should get a chance to too. Seeing as it is Sunday! Well… was, I guess now its Monday morning. The vessels work 24/7, so Monday to Sunday I’ll work a 12 hour shift, so its nice to take a chance to just chill out once in a while.

Tomorrow (today) is bank holiday Monday! Feels so strange, you loose track of things like that at sea, even what day it is. I only remembered it was Sunday when I put the tele on and Sunday Brunch came on! I guess I kind of have to know the date, for our logs etc, but I just read it off the computer. Even what time it is gets a bit distorted. Especially when you have your lunch at 5pm!

The chef has been really nice lately and has started making me vegetarian meals every other day! I’m so grateful to not be eating fish every day, especially as it always seems to be a whole fish fried, and it’s a faf to be trying to pick around the bones! He actually served Lobster yesterday!! Yes lobster! Not freshly caught or anything, frozen, but still… I didn’t have any, it was served at my breakfast time and I didn’t think that would go down too well!

Anyway, I wish I had something more exciting to talk about, but I’m afraid the days are pretty much the same on board. It can get a bit repetitive, especially if your down on weather… So I’m going to leave it hear for now, speak soon!

Oh yeah, and it turns out, those 79 PDF’s I had to annotate…. I only needed to do 5… 47 less than I actually managed to get done… It took me 5 hours…

07/05/2015

01:12

Today has been spent sitting in the TV room with the rest of day shift watching Modern Family… I think we’ve got through about 30 episodes today… No joke! The weathers been pretty bad, we’ve spent the last two days down on weather. Its been around a force 7-8 most of the day, it got to a force 9 at one point and the swells reached over 3m… There’s been a lot of stumbling around and catching things that have fallen off tables!

It gets quite frustrating being down on weather, don’t get me wrong, after two weeks of working its nice to have a couple of days to relax, but theres just so little to do! Its not like you can go anywhere, the majority of entertainment is TV. It gets quite frustrating. Luckily I no longer feel sea sick! I’ve adjusted to being offshore now, but if it were like this for the first few days, I probably wouldn’t have been able to leave my bed, apart from if I maybe fell out because of how much its rolling around!

Time to attempt to sleep whilst being thrown around, I wonder how many bruises I’ll wake up to.

Oh, my cabin was cleaned again today… and my PJ’s folded!!

09/05/2015

02:31

Mini panic, my laptop had restarted itself and I’d forgotten to save all of this, but luckily Autosave did it for me!

I’m back in my little bunk after a long day working on what feels like the most complicated job and a good gym session. I will admit, I don’t go to the gym as much as I’d like to say I do, but after spending a couple of days sat watching TV because we’re down on weather or a day at the desk working, its nice to do exercise! There isn’t much equipment in there, just a bike (with the worlds most uncomfortable seat) a rower, a cross trainer and a weights machine. Well, I gets that is quite a lot considering how small the room is! A group of us have also started the 30 day planking challenge, which we’re shortening to 15 day, missing out every other, including the rest day… it could get painful!

Anyway, we’re finally working again. I feel like I’ve spent the whole day running between the little ‘office’ I work in and the lab where the surveyors and engineers are. Honestly this ship has a rubbish setup in that respect. The Geo should defiantly be in the Lab with everyone else, but on here the lab is just too small. It is literally two containers joined together on the back deck! But hey ho, we make it work. All the crew (survey and ships) are really nice and everyone seems to get on pretty well which makes everything run smoother! Don’t get me wrong, there are a few ‘heated discussions’ but on a whole, it’s a good atmosphere.

We’re on the final stage of the job! Supposedly 3 or 4 days work, but that’s just an outline. It could take weeks, it all depends on the weather, data quality and how much extra lines are needed. I’d have liked to be home for the election so I could vote, my postal vote application didn’t arrive before I left so I didn’t have that option. We could still watch the coverage on the TV, but its not the same.

That’s one of the things with working offshore. You miss out on things. Don’t get me wrong, getting so much time off is great, but due to the nature of the work you can only take holiday in two two week blocks so its really difficult to plan and agree to things. For example, I’m signed up to run the Race for Like in a week, I don’t know if I’ll make it back in time, and it’s Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Norwich the weekend after. Okay, these aren’t massive events, but as the vessels work 365 days a year, you can miss out on being home for Christmas, birthdays, new year etc etc.  Some company’s run 4 weeks on 4 weeks off, or other regular patterns, but most just work when there’s work. This means you may be sat at home for months on end, or the polar opposite, be at sea for 8 weeks, have 2 weeks at home then head back out for 8 weeks again. Its very unpredictable. But its what you sign up for when you take the job!

Anyway… time for bed. Another busy day for us tomorrow! I’ll actually make an effort to upload this!

E x

Here We Go Again…

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Holaaa guys, so, tomorrow I head off to join the M.V. Vigilant for my next trip offshore and, this time, I plan on actually telling you how it is as I planned to last time! 

Annnyway… So here I am, sat on my bed watching Once Upon a Time (which I highly recommend), finally feeling prepared.  I’ve now known that I’ll be heading offshore for just under a week (a little more notice than last time) and have been trying to sort myself out ever since. Despite having been away before, I had no idea where to start when it came to packing. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I took before! Clothes obviously.. on that note, I just want to add, that there’s a washing machine on board and I can wash my clothes, so no, I didn’t have to re-wear clothes for 10 weeks on my last trip! (I was a little surprised about how many have asked me this question). I’m not really sure how I’ll do this, I’ll probably write various short posts whilst I’m away and upload them when I have internet! So, if you’re interested, stay tuned! 

Ex 

6 Months Later…

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Wow, so my attempt at blogging about my Year in Industry has gone pretty poorly… 6 months have passed since I last wrote about my placement and at that point in time I had only been working with the company a matter of weeks… Well now it’s almost 7 months into my placement and I have a lot to catch you up on!

So, where to start… When I last blogged, I was only two weeks into my placement. Following that I spent the next month in the office! Well, almost all of it but I’ll get to that next. I must say, I continued to enjoy the company, unlimited tea, wandering around in my socks and of course the work! I started to feel like I had a real grasp of what I was supposed to be doing and loved learning and experiencing what it was like working in a professional environment. Having only ever been a waitress/bar staff it was a bit of a shock to the system, I must say, even now I miss being on my feet and talking all day, probably why I enjoyed the offshore component to my placement more, but again, I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, one of my highlights of the past 6 months has to be the, let’s say interesting, week I spent completing the course in the Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Basic Safety training course, a legal requirement for anyone planning to work offshore! The week started off with a long drive over to Lowestoft College, before getting lost in the car park, asking someone as equally clueless as me for directions and finally meeting the rest of the group I was about to spend the week with. With the day focused on First Aid training I felt pretty confident, having a good grasp on this from my time with St Johns, so when going over it back at home that evening, I was not aware of how nerve racking the next few days would be!

The majority of the next few days were spent learning to fight fires! Yes, I got to put out fires! After a morning of classroom training we then found ourselves dressed in full fire fighting gear, which I must note, is not designed for 5’4 women (I wish I had a picture of this), and off we went to the fire ground! The first day was quite tame, putting out fires in steel containers with different types of fire extinguishers, I really enjoyed it. Then we learnt to use the hoses and how to put out slightly larger fires.

The second day however, was much more intense!

This was the first time I had ever used breathing apparatus; I must say, I think it was the most challenging part of the course for me. It is such a weird feeling relying on a tank of air you’re carrying on your back to breathe. Eventually I got used to it, but I found it very off-putting at first. We spent the morning in a classroom learning how to put the equipment on, how to activate the mask and the tank and then we were led around the site, up ladders, crawling through small tubes and jogging out in the open. With the tank on your back and a large hard hat on and dressed in the bulky gear, most of these tasks are not easy. I really respect those who do this every day. It was hot, awkward and uncomfortable, but strangely fun after you got used to it! 

That afternoon we were thrown into the deep end! Old containers full of obstacles were set up on their site designed to simulate the ship. Within these fires were lit and the containers filled with smoke. In groups of 3, breathing apparatus on and hoses at the ready we had to go into the pitch black and use our newly acquired sweeping techniques (which make you look like you’re doing some very strange unstable dance), navigate around and tackle the fires. At first it was horrible; not being able to see anything, feeling the heat of the fires and being very aware that the only oxygen you have is that coming from the tank on your back. But after the first simulation (I think we did about 3 that day) it started to become strangely enjoyable. You’re very aware that you’re in a controlled situation with the constant support and guidance of the instructors (who I must say were great), and so you start to relax into it and can focus more on the task and less on the fear! Haha.

I will just say, if you’re planning on doing this course/need to do this course, you will smell awful afterwards! It took a good week to get the smell out of my hair! 

Slightly exhausted from the day before, I was pretty glad that the next day was only half a day at Petans, part of which was occupied simply by a multiple choice test. However, once more we donned all our firefighting gear, and into the containers we went. This time they made it a little more challenging with ladders and stairs to compete with but feeling more comfortable with the breathing apparatus and the smoke I was feeling a lot more confident! 

After scrubbing as much of the smokey smell off as possible, we travelled over to Lowestoft for the afternoon (I was not best pleased about this) to listen to a talk on responsibilities. After two and a half days of hand on firefighting there were many sleepy people trying very hard not to drift off! But we all made it through the afternoon and I went home to a very well deserved bath! 

The next day was without a doubt my favourite! Sea Survival in the pool! And no, even though you’re working at sea, you don’t have to be able to swim! Not once have I ever been asked this question (much to my Dad’s surprise). But I can and I love being in the water so I felt pretty confident about this day. 

Until they stood me on a platform above the water looking down at the bottom of the 10m deep pool and told me to jump… 

Can’t say I was too happy about that at first! But after a little encouragement from the great group I’d been working with all week I did it (and secretly quite enjoyed it). The day was so fun. It started with classroom training and then we were off. Dressed in our swimmys, overalls (again, they don’t seem to make these for short women) and massive life jackets, one by one, we jumped. Several times in fact; once with all the lights off, which honestly felt like you were falling forever! After learning to flip an overturned life raft and climb into it we simulated a variety of different abandon ship situations, which was in fact great fun! However I don’t imagine this is the case if you have to do it for real! The pool was nowhere near as cold as the North Sea would be! After drying off we had to sit one final multiple choice test and that was it! STCW completed… It was not what I expected it to be at all… not that I really knew what to expect but it was great fun. You really need to throw yourself into it though, don’t sit back. I was pretty scared at the beginning but after a quiet talk with myself I really got into it and ended up loving it! All apart from that smell… I had to throw away a sports bra which just refused to smell of anything but smoke!   

Anyway! I was going to tell you about the rest of my 7 months in this entry, But I’ve pretty much only made it to the end of week 4 and I have 10 weeks of being offshore to write about!

So, until next time!

E x 

Europe 2012.

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Almost two and a half years ago, on March 11th 2012, I set off on the on probably the most scary and exciting adventure I have ever undertaken, I was about to spend two moths InterRailing Europe, 5 week s alone, 4 weeks with my wonderful friend Hannah.

You know what, its the best thing I have ever done.

I if was given a pound for every time I was asked / am asked ‘You’re going/went alone?!?!?’ I’d be rich. But yes, at the age of 18, I set off alone, I don’t regret it one bit. Yeah I was so scared I had a little cry when I said goodbye to my family (they all insisted on coming to the airport!) at security at Gatwick airport, but as soon as my flight left the runway, that was it, excitement set in.

There is no way I can describe my adventure in one blog post so I’m going to try split it into each city I visited. I’ll do my best to make recommendations and reviews along the way.

First I’ll start with the InterRail ticket. which can be bought at;
http://www.interrail.eu/interrail-passes

Global Pass

I got myself two one moth Global Passes, but they sell many other types of passes ranging from 5 days – 1 month, some for individual countries and some or most of Europe.

I was extraordinarily grateful for my pass whilst travelling in Western Europe, where travelling country-county via train is very expensive. Don’t be fooled, you can’t just turn up at any train station and hop on a train wherever you want to go, with international trains reservations are usual mandatory, which does cost. Usually between 3-30 Euros depending on where you’re going. In Eastern Europe, I discovered that for certain places, such as Croatia, the InterRail pass can be almost useless… with coaches being dirt cheap and no train lines to key locations, it almost feels pointless to have an InterRail pass.
Do your research!
Look into where you’re planning on going, how long you’ll be in each place, compare the prices of train and coach tickets. You may find you waste money buying a pass, or you may save a fortune. If you do decide to InterRail, make sure you buy a copy of the European Rail Timetable before you go. It will help you plan ahead, work out where you can actually go via train and which trains you have to make reservations for.

Next, Guide books. I love guide books. They are a great way to investigate a place before you go. The two biggest names seem to be The Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. I must say, I bought so many guide books before I went, however the one I found most useful was Rough Guides: Europe on a budget. 

Europe on a Budget

This book was my savior. With recommendations for everything and a convenient map of each major city, it was light enough to carry everywhere in my handbag whist I was away. Each country is introduced firstly with key facts are outlined clearly, such as currency, an estimation of your daily budget and currency conversion rates. Secondly, a basic overview of the country’s history (well worth reading) is followed by descriptions of transport, accommodation, food, culture and activities.  Thirdly, the key towns and cites (picked by Rough Guides) are discussed. With the handy map and detailed recommendations from where to stay to what to do, I found this guide unbelievably useful.

Updated every 4 years, I’d highly recommend purchasing the up to date version  of this guide available on Amazon and pretty much all large bookshops.

The reason I didn’t get lonely whilst being away was because I stayed in hostels, all booked through
http://www.hostelworld.com/
which provides reviews, no booking fees and a 100% guarantee on their bookings. I’d recommend, if you’re booking in advance, to go through Hostelworld. It allows you pick the best hostel for you, with details into location, price and the atmosphere of the hostel itself. Trust me, they vary significantly!

I hope this helps getting you started!

E x