St Andrews

As you may have read in my biography in the about page, I completed my Bachelor of Science by reading Geography at The University of St Andrews, Scotland's first University. I have only made a handful of visits since I completed this course. A few occasions to use their laser seive to analyse sediment from Greenland while researching my PhD, but since then I have only made two trips. Once in late December in 2005 with some friends and then again last Sunday.

The thought of returning to a place I became so familiar with after such a long absence has always made me feel a little uneasy. When I was there in 2005 I was horrified that Costa Coffee has opened up, the whole idea of 'chain' shops seemed to go against the idea of St Andrews and its 'lost in time feeling'.

Of course, finding Starbucks, Pizza Express and a whole host of other multinational shops in the city this time certainly shocked me, although if I had thought about it for more than a few minutes before I arrived I would have figured out that this was an obvious progression. 

It's hard going back, it's hard not looking for the familiar signs, the people and the feeling that doesn't seem to be there anymore. I think it was the excitement of being there as a student, not knowing what was going to happen each day. I think I could see it in the eyes of the students that I did see though, I did feel a pinch of jealousy.

Of course, some things never change, the red gowns were adorned by the students coming out from St Salvators Chapel heading towards the Pier Walk, possibly heading to the Hebdomadar's office for sherry, or perhaps a new tradition of heading to Starbucks for a Frappuccino. Trust me, the sherry was always better.

I didn't take many photographs as I was mainly walking around in my own thoughts of years gone by. Click the thumbnail for the large version.

New academic Year, new academic students.

It seems almost surreal that the M.Sc. course I completed last year has started again. I have been helping out in some of the practicals which has also allowed me some time to work on the paper that I am trying to publish.

It's interesting talking to the new students and discussing with them about some of the course options and what they hope to get out of the course. It's amazing how similar their thoughts are to what I was thinking last year. 

I am keeping myself busy mostly with application forms for employment, learning R (a statistical programming language), learning some statistics (because I am gluten for punishment) and re-drawing diagrams for the paper I am writing. I also have three interviews next week, which is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.

Seeing as the new academic year has started I thought it was about time that I posted a couple of the photographs from August when my class and I were celebrating finishing our dissertations with some of the academic staff :-)

Dissertation writing up...

The last time I had to 'write up' a large body of work I had a job in the university library. Actually I had about four jobs in the library, which basically funded my beer, accommodation, and cheesy pasta that I apparently lived on. The jobs I had in the library were amazing, they were never terribly busy and I was always sat at a computer. This allowed me to type up my work, think about my work and run downstairs to the journals if I needed to look something up. Of course now I can find any journal online... Of course, I also served people when it was required ;-)

Still, I miss having those jobs right now as I have been finding writing up more difficult this time, hence being up since 4am (which is when it gets light) having slept very little last night. This dissertation come in two parts, a scientific paper and a technical report. Thankfully the paper section should be finished off for review today and i can start finishing off the technical section next week.

Lake 15

It has been interesting getting back into a subject that has always interested me (Glacial  Lake Outburst Flood's) and it has been great applying new skills learned during the M.Sc. to that subject. My results have been interesting, lots of histograms and images of glaciers with polygons around their pro-glacial lakes! :-)

Well, it's almost 6am and the rain is steadily falling. Time for some tea I think. 


Lake 15 Histogram of Lake Area

Lake 15 Histogram of Lake Area

Old College

Old College, Edinburgh University

Today brings with it the last module of classes for the M.Sc. that I am undertaking, Further Spatial Analysis. Five weeks of classes and the taught part of the course will be over. It seems like just yesterday that I was in the introductory lectures.

Have started the research for my dissertation now as well. I have decided to look at glacial lake outburst floods; the conditions in which they form and if it is possible to predict the formation of lakes when glaciers retreat. I will be using remote sensing and GIS to do this. Large projects always make me a little uneasy, there is always a little nagging doubt that I'll never get it done.

The weather in Scotland has been horrific since, well, October. I think I have seen the Sun a couple of times since then but I am thinking that I will have to start taking a Vitamin D supplement. It has curtailed taking most photographs that I want to take so far or the ones that I am composing in my head..  You can never wait for the right weather to take photographs though, sometimes you have to suck it up and make the best with what is going on. I did manage to get this picture a few days ago. It is the entrance to the Old College and the Edinburgh Law School at Edinburgh University. Was walking past at the right time of the afternoon.