What to blog…

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Hello, me again, and yes so soon! I’m actually procrastinating, I have a deadline at 3pm tomorrow and two of the eight questions to finish, but alas, I just can’t be arsed. Bad, I know, but its Sunday morning, it’s beautifully sunny outside and the last place i want to be is in the library.

I never really know what to blog about. Back when I was working offshore blogging about what life at sea was like, I felt like I had something interesting to say. Now I’m back at university spending the majority of my time in lectures or working on the mountain of coursework I seem to have, I struggle to think of interesting topics, or even make the time. However, when I actually sit down to write, It always flows pretty quickly. I never really know if people will be interested in writing about my studies. I was considering keeping a blog whilst I work on my dissertation, where I should be working on a project with a company. Obviously the actual dissertation wont be discussed due to confidentiality, but the general experience.

I also spend a lot of my free time crocheting ans I never write about that. Probably should. I love to travel, but have little time for it at the moment. Maybe I’ll go back and write about the places I’ve been and any, maybe slightly outdated, recommendations for inter-railing around Europe.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. An insight to the workings of my Sunday morning procrastination brain. Seeing as it’s 11 and I’m sat in the library and still yet to get on with work, I think I’ll go!

Ex

 

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

Back to Blogging and Degree Progress…

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Hello! (Especially to Mum, as I best she’s the first person to read this!)

 On January 11th I handed in my dissertation! Yes, its ‘over’, everyone keeps asking me if I’m happy.relieved, but honestly, no, I’m really not. I’m still a little stressed – I don’t actually find out how I did until the 22nd February, despite my supervisor telling me yesterday that she’d marked it – frustrating right! But most of all, I just feel a little lost.

After months of living in the library 9-5, going home and working some more, I feel like I have nothing to do! I know that’s not true  – I still have two modules and a job, but nothing to work towards almost. I quite like having imminent deadlines, whether they’re set by myself or not. Its now week 4 (I think) of my final semester of final year of university (scary) and even though I have things to be getting on with, like looking for a job, starting coursework due in April etc etc, its not the same…

 

Hence, back to blogging. My aim (If I can actually stick to it, I don’t seem to be that great at keeping up with blogging) is to write a weekly blog post. If I succeed, I’ll try increase that to twice weekly! I’m hoping this will help me have something to work towards and help me feel a little less lost! I think my main issue with blogging is I don’t feel like anyone will actually read my posts or be interested in what I have to say. But I guess that’s not really important. For now, I’m doing this for myself, not for others!

 

In terms of degree progress… Its nearly over! Scary or what. Three and a half years I’ve been a student at the University of East Anglia. I can’t say its been plain sailing, but its been fun. I feel like the worst must be over now, what with the dissertation, first and second year complete. All I have remaining is a course test, an exam and a report! That’s it and, hopefully, I will be an Environmental Geophysics graduate! Crazy!! Lets hope it goes well!

 

Anyway, I’ll stop with the boring post now and (hopefully) you’ll hear from me again soon!

 

E x

Travelling, arrival and my first week onboard…

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22/04/2015

16:30

So, I’m currently sat at Norwich Airport, ridiculously early (as always) waiting to check in, as, despite the check-in being open, they haven’t got a list of the passengers on the flight…. This could be interesting!

I’m feeling really nervous, my last trip away was amazing and I was accompanied by some fantastic people, this one has a lot to live up to. I am sailing with one of the lovely ladies I worked with before and the other Geophycisit’s I shall be working with are lovely! So all should be good! I’m more nervous that, unlike last time, I shall be on my own shift and have a lot more responsibility than before! It is however, nice to know they have the confidence in me for this though. I just don’t want to mess up!

23:22

So, here I am, snuggled up in my little cabin on the M.V. Vigilant. It feels so weird to be back on a ship, it’s been just over 5 months since I left the Researcher! The Vigilant is definitely more confusing, but I think I’ve got my head around where everything is! I’ve unpacked a little so my cabin feels more homely, I made the mistake of living out of my suitcase for the first part of my last trip offshore and it’s not pleasant! It’s nice to look around the room and see my own belongings. Tomorrows going to be a busy day of ship inductions and pre-job meetings, so off to sleep I go (after an episode of Once Upon a Time).

23/04/2015

21:39

Well, I never got a chance to upload yesterday’s post, todays been a busy day and since we left port, the internet has been painfully slow!

From what I have gathered do far with my offshore experiences, today was a pretty standard start of job day. Despite being on the midday to midnight shift, I was up at 7 for breakfast, ready to sign on with the Capitain (something everyone has to do when you join a vessel). After an induction tour of the ship, which is one of the very few occasions us Geos dress up in our PPE, we were then in organisation mode, trying to set up the job on the ships computer ready for the pre-job meeting. Aiding the ships crew with putting away stores is another of the rare occasions the PPE comes out to play and seeing the amount of boxes of magnums which were delivered had everyone excited! The Vigilant, without a doubt, has better snacks than the Researcher! Now just to not put on loads of weight! Ha.

The pre-job meeting followed, I can’t say it’s a thrilling experience, but vital to get all the information for the upcoming job. The rest of the day was just more time at the computer, trying to sort out silly issues with software, confusing the chart printer and getting a prepared as possible for the upcoming work (including eating magnums). A majority of the job ahead is pretty simplistic, yet a section of it, none of us have done before, so we’re just trying to get ahead of the game! We left Montrose at about 6pm and, surprisingly I feel pretty good (touch wood). It took me a few days to adjust last time I first got out to sea, but hopefully, I still have my sea legs. It definitely feels strange, hence why I’m already tucked up in bed at nearly 10pm, writing this before I watch another episode of Once Upon a Time!

The foods been quite good so far, although, I did have the test of making the chef aware that I’m a pescatarian, which, with a language barrier is always a little tricky! He seemed to be okay about having to cater for me, however I always feel so awkward having to ask them to make sure theres something I can eat, plus, eating fish every meal for weeks on end does get very dull! Being on the midday to midnight shift means I’ll only catch two meal times (we have set times, 07:00 – 08:00 for breakfast, 11:30-12:30 for lunch and 17:00-18:00 for dinner) but there’s always leftovers and I’ll probably skip lunch and have porridge instead, waking up and eating a full cooked lunch will not go down well! I’ve never actually done a shift like this before. My time on the Researcher I shadowed the Geo and we usually worked 08:00-22:00, so the day was a lot more sociable. I’m not really sure how I’m going to structure my day around my shift yet, but I’m sure I’ll work something out!

Anyway, my head is feeling a little bit funny and I’m shattered, so I’m going to chill and I’ll try and get this somewhere tomorrow!

27/04/2015

01:33

Helloo, so, I haven’t written in a couple of days, simply because if I wrote every day it’d get super boring and repetitive! My last two days have been working days! Woooo. We’ve started acquiring data and I’m a busy bee, which I like. We had a fire and muster drill the other day, at 11am, literally just as I got our the shower… I wasn’t aware we had a drill… that was fun! But yeah, basically we just run through the procedures that we’d go through for the event of the fire, which in my case is go to the muster point on deck in PPE (another one of the few chances I get to wear my PPE) with my life jacket and survival suit! Usually you have a responsibility, such as collecting the fire extinguishers etc, but due to this ship being tranship we don’t have that. So basically I stood out on deck in PPE and a life jacket for half hour, but it was nice to get some fresh air!

The last three days have been pretty much the same. I’m up at 10:30, I’ll have some breakfast… I’ve brought some porridge along with me because I miss the breakfast time, but there is cereal and bread etc, there’s always plenty of food! Then I’ll be in our little Geo office for 11:30 to handover from the night shift, then to work I go! On board I’m responsible for data QC and interpretation, so if I’m not happy with the data I have the responsibility to make the appropriate people aware. But mainly I’ve just spent my days at my desk, in my really dodgy chair, which was once a wheelie chair. But as you can imagine, a wheelie chair on a very rolly ship… disaster, so they’ve ripped the wheels off!! And it leans really awkwardly backwards and to the left…. There’s an art to sitting in it the right way!

I’ll usually break for dinner (well, my lunch) at 5pm, then on with work until 23:30 when I’ll handover to the night shift! Pretty straight forward. The main lab is at the other end of the ship, so I spend a fair bit of time going to and from to see whats going on and ask any questions. And obviously I have a Magnum break! There is just so much tempting naught food! So difficult to stay away from the buisuits, especially when I’m drinking tea all day long! Working offshore definitly increases my tea consumption. But I’m trying to mitigate the impacts of the chocolate and ice cream by heading to the gym each night after shift. I try and stay up till past 02:00, otherwise I wake up at 08:00 and im shattered by the end of my shift! I didn’t make it there yesterday though, felt pretty queasy, we were rolling around a lot! Then I’ll just head to my cabin, watch an episode of OUAT and go to sleep…

Until 06:00, when the bow thrusters seem to be tested (due to the fact we’re doing 500m zone work) and I’m rudely woken up!!! You would not believe how loud they are! And my cabin is right next to them!

Aaaanyway, that’s my working day on board, nothing too exciting. Now it’s time for bed for me, I’ll attempt to get this uploaded tomorrow!!!

E x

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