Thursday, 29 March 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Part Two

My niece and nephew, Harriet and Edward Lancaster. Born 25th March 2011 (Yep – they were one last weekend!)

These two are probably the most exciting/best thing to happened within my close family in recent years. Ever since I found out my sister was pregnant, I just *knew*, just had a feeling it was twins. She didn’t believe me. The night before her scan, I dreamt it was twins – wahey me! I did think up until about 7 months that it would be two boys, I’m not sure why, I just did. Emily & Philip didn’t find out the flavour until birth (they knew one was a boy, silly scanner person told them), and clearly, one was a boy and the other a girl.

Harriet & Edward were born late evening, on the Friday. On Saturday, my parents dropped me off at Uni while they went to visit. I was on top of a mountain on Sunday when I got emails with the first pictures – I showed them to everyone! So proud of my sister, so so so happy for her and Philip.

A year later, and I was supposed to be on a field trip that ended the day before their First Birthday. For reasons previously stated, I didn’t go, so I got to spend some time with the H & E a few days before their birthday. Both Harriet and Edward are doing so well, they’re really clever and advanced for their age! Not bad considering they were prem.

I can’t wait for them to get a bit bigger so we can take them on adventures (read; so I can play in the kiddies section at Drayton Manor).

They make me muchos happy, and Harriets smile is by far the cutest thing I’ve seen in ages. Here’s hoping my sister provides me with more!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Attempting to land behind some houses, just up the way from Bournville Green. Silly chinook.

Why I Love Geology [repost]

It’s a bit of a long story really – I suppose I have my dad to blame for it too (like lots of things). I’ll try and explain my passion for this subject, and then when I tweet something along the lines of ‘UGH I hate this module!’ or, ‘I really hate structural geology’ or, ‘GAH’, then point me back to this post, and remind me why I love it.

I lived in Saudi Arabia for 7 years when I was little – went out in 1989, came back in 1996. I can remember going out into the desert with my family and our trusty 1984 left hand drive white Range Rover ‘Foggy’ (which we still have). I can remember camping, Hamilton-style, with camp beds, sleeping bags, pillows, my teddy (who I still have), travel stove, gas bottle, travel kettle... but no tent. I can remember the drives, on the tarmac road that seemed never-ending, the road that just appears out of the mirage in the distance, the one that needed sweeping off because the sandstorms obscured it from time to time, the one that took me on all these adventures. I can remember, quite distinctly, going out to the wide open space of the Arabian Peninsula, where there’s *nothing* but sand and sky, and looking for sharks teeth (and boy, did we find em!). I can remember marvelling at why there were sharks teeth in the desert – we lived in Riyadh, nowhere near the sea! So how did they get there? Since when did sharks live in the desert?

I can remember my dad taking us out to different parts of the desert, just to explore. We’d spend ages flying kites, sitting on the drop-down bit in the boot of Foggy trying to find some shade. We’d watch the lizards scurry around, trying not to burn their feet on the sand, and the birds, flying overhead trying to find dinner.

I can remember the great big steep cliffs, with the layers that made them so prominent and jaggy, and how some stuck out more than others – I now know that this is differential weathering, as some rocks are more competent than others. I remember the drives through the wadis, to find the next fossil hunting place. I can remember my mom complaining because her feet would swell in the heat & with altitude. My sister and I, sharing earphones on her Walkman, with some dodgy (but now super awesome) 90s mix cassette.

Fast forward to the summer of 1996. Probably the best summer I’ve ever had, even though I can’t remember most of it.

We left Saudi.

But not by packing our things and getting a plane back to Blighty. Oh no. We packed up the 1984 left hand drive white Range Rover and DROVE. Dad at the wheel, Mom up front, Me, Brother & Sister squished in the back. Boot FULL. Trailer FULL. Roof rack FULL.

And off we went!

Down the Christian Highway, along the desert roads I miss so much, and onwards, towards the Red Sea. I won’t give you all the details of this trip – that’s either for another blog, or for a book (it’s typed up already, just needs tweaking and editing).

We crossed the border to Jordan – we went to Petra and we went all over. Petra is one of those places you really have to see to believe. The thing I remember most is the walk down the great big ‘alleyway’ called the Siq, and moaning to mum that I was hot, my feet hurt and I didn’t want to go. And then we got there. WOW. We walked 16kms around Petra that day, and I got a piggy back off our guide.

After Jordan, we went through Syria, Turkey and Greece, before reaching Italy. In Italy, we did the usual – Amalfi Coast (sicked all over my siblings), Herculaneum, Rome, Sorrento, and climbed Mt Vesuvius. Amazing. Aged 7 and I’d conquered a volcano. From Italy we went to France, and then crossed the Channel to England. After this, we didn’t do much international travelling, but every year we went camping, usually to a different place in Wales, before doing Great Yarmouth and then the South Coast.

I don’t remember doing much fossil hunting in Wales, or Great Yarmouth, but I do remember going to Lyme Regis one year and doing a fossil hunting trip with one of the local guides (who we dubbed Indiana Fossil) and me finding LOTS of Ammonites. Love of fossil hunting was reborn.

I’ve been back to Lyme once, and that was only to kill time. I’d love to go back, do more fossiling, and I’d love to go to new haunts.

With School & College (GCSE Geology and then AS/A Level Geology), we went to the Wrens Nest in Dudley, as well as week residential to North Wales & South England. Field Trips are fun, they’re brilliant weeks where you get to spend a week with your mates, larking around, out in all weather conditions, not having a clue what you’re doing, but then realising, ‘hang on – I get it now!’.

Geology is a subject where you can learn so much – something that when I was younger I couldn’t fathom. I never understood why secondary school maths would be different to primary school maths, surely I knew it all? Of course I was wrong, and it’s the same with geology. I got a B at GCSE and a B at A Level. I know I can achieve a high First at Degree level, but I know I need to put the work in. I feel like I need to do this subject justice – I love it so much and I want to prove that I do. It’s difficult to put across in words just how I feel, but if you actually talk to me, I can get quite animated.

You can pick up a rock and work out so much stuff to do with the past. A fossil suddenly becomes more than a fragment of shell or bone; it becomes a window to a time so long ago we can’t even imagine how long ago. It becomes evidence of how life was – the conditions, the extent of the seas, and the location of the continents. A sedimentary rock can become a massive clue in telling us how rivers worked, are they similar to rivers today?, what was the flow direction, how strong was the current... all these things can be identified by just looking at a rock.

I love this subject. I love how something so inanimate, so mundane to some people, tells us so much more than we ever thought. I cannot wait to graduate. I want to get out there, and do Geology. I want my life to be one long Field Trip, full of awesomeness, rocks & beer.

After college I decided I hated everything, and cancelled my UCAS application. So, I trained to be a plumber. I thought, I can become a plumber; do something entirely different but have the skills if I need them; or do a geology degree, combine it with my plumbing skills, and become a Hydrogeologist. So that’s what I did.

After 2 years of training I ended up working as a part time Cleaner at the University of Birmingham. It was while doing this job that I realised, I DID want a degree, I DID want to do Geology, and that that’s where my heart lies. So I applied! And better yet, I was accepted.

I started my Geology BSc in September 2010. I’m now a second year student and I’m happier than ever. I love this course, I love learning something new every day (literally). I may moan a lot, I may rant a lot, I may claim to hate the tutors a lot, but they’re all good eggs, and it’s a great department.

All I need now is to get some relevant work experience, and then get a job when I graduate in 2013.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


I like these pics. I want to be like these ladies! (i.e.: gorgeous)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Allotment Blog, Again

Today I went back up the allotment for a good few hours. I finished digging over the larger bed I made the other day, weeded it, raked it a bit and got fed up of seeing it. Planted the strawberries up in their new blue planter, and put the leftover strawbs in the hanging planter on my shed door. I also managed to destroy my compost area, so I needed to rebuild it - I transferred some compost into the other half and turned it a little bit. Cleared up around the back of the compost; found some rhubarb coming through. Mom mowed the lawn and cleared the overgrowth on Plot 42 and found a row of parsnips that the guy (who had the plot before us) had left. Also put up a dalek compost bin on Plot 42. Mom also cleared out the greenhouse and cleaned its windows. I painted a plank of wood... No reason, but I've wanted to paint something for a while! Tidied up the decking area; weeded the roses a bit (pulled out the foxgloves) and chopped back the mint, peony & carnations. Mulched around the rhubarb and replanted the chard in the bed I've been working on. Put out some more bird food and then came home! Quite productive, but I still haven't dug out the drainage ditches, which is a Must Do Job. It can wait. Also managed to sit on a bramble and kneel on a nettle. My shoulder keeps going into spasm and my back is sore; tomorrow will not be fun.

Pictures from Plot 31:

Pictures from Plot 42

L x

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Frog Blog

On March 11th, my mother text me this picture:

Today, I've been to visit the spawn, and they've started to develop!

And a close up...

Each little cell is quite clearly splitting into two parts - the head and the tail! Very exciting watching new frog life live and grow and evolve into a froglet :-)

Considering our 'pond' started life as a bird bath, probably 6 or 7 years ago now, it's not doing too badly as a little breeding haven for froggies! These are the spawn of the Common Frog - I know this because we quite often see frogs up here, or around the greenhouse. We've seen large and small, male and female, old frogs and last years returning frogs. We've seen them hibernating; in the evening; under the plastic tubs; hiding under rotting (and probably fermenting) apples; during amplexus; and being thrown around by the cats. We're very proud of our little froggy habitat, and it's always nice when they come back every year.

Last year wasn't a good year for froglings - we didn't have many survive. I love the little frogs that leave the water, still with a tail attached! Will definitely be keeping tabs on this lot, so expect more Frog Blogs!

L x

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sunday, 18 March 2012


I rather spectacularly fell off the Granny A Day wagon quite a long time go; I blame the ex, heartbreak, uni, stress, potentially life changing decisions & my depression. I'm back on it now though!

I went home to my parents house, quite late on Friday evening (10pm ish) - I was craving doing some crochet, and all of my yarn and hooks had already been taken back as part of my move back home.

I made two granny squares whilst I was there:

I forgot to get a pic of the second – it is orange (neon!) with a red layer around it.

Today I have made a large yellow and blue granny:

And have already used it as a duster. My Granny A Day total is now up to about 27, but I didn’t bring all my yarn with me (I’m meant to be moving out, not back in!) so I only have red, yellow & blue. Also didn’t look at the hooks I picked up – I’ve managed to come home with two 4.5mm hooks! Oh well.

Today I’ve been sat in, waiting for someone to come and have a look at the room, so I decided to master a crochet flower. I was planning to make the flower in the latest edition of Mollie Makes. That didn’t work. I couldn’t/still can’t figure out what a slip ring is?! Is it just a magic ring? Why don’t they just say that?! (Why doesn’t someone come up with an international standard crochet terminology?!! It’d make things a lot easier). So anyway, I promptly gave up with MM, (there’s a surprise), and turned to ye olde faithful, Google.

I found a few UK patterns that had fairly impressive looking flowers, I’d like to make them all! But I decided to try a simple one first, and I made these:

YAY! First ever crochet flowers (I text my mom “my first ever crowshit flours”, hehehe)
So I am quite pleased with myself today. Think I may make loads more! Why not. It’s raining out (pouring down) and I’m not quite in the mood to start reading my next book (Sense and Sensibility).

I have also started to crochet together some knitted squares:

...These will be the subject of another blog post!

L x

Happy Mothers Day!

This is what my mother had from me:

A Japanese Peace Lily, for the suburban, subtropical jungle that is her living room.

It also came with a small box of free chocolates, and I had 12.5% off AND the best part is mom had to pick it from the post office herself on Saturday. She also spent some gift money on a strawberry planter, for my allotment...

I'm such a good daughter.*

*or, cheapskate, lazy, unappreciative bum. Wuv woo mommy!

L x

Saturday, 17 March 2012

More Piccies From The Allotment

*Warning!* This is a very pic-heavy post! :-)

I visited my allotment(s) today; they look super scruffy. I elongated a small, square bed into a long, rectangular bed - think I may have this as a potato bed this year. I've managed to bruise my spade leg, so I couldn't really do much more digging :( I will probably make it a few spade lengths longer, before weeding it, manuring & covering, ready for spuds.

I also used Pete the Wheelbarrow for the first time - things are SO much easier now! No more lugging huge yellow tubs about the place, wahey! Here is Pete, laden with turf I'd removed from the bed above:

I also pruned the blackcurrant, refilled the bird feeder, dumped all the turf at the top of my plot (my allotment ex-neighbour decided to take a short cut up my plot, and through the hedgerow at the back, leaving a massive hole. I've since put a pallet in to fill the gap, so today I dumped the turf there, grass side down, and sprinkled some Calendula seeds around! Hopefully they'll take, and start to grow, it'd be nice to add some colour to this part of the plot).

I also took some pics of other things; daffodils, my newest flower bed (daffs & tulips at the moment), the trench that is so overgrown it's no longer a trench..

Over at Plot 42, which I took on last September/October, the broad beans continue to get bigger:

And the shed is still white, It needs painting! Think I might commandere my arty friends to paint a mural or something on it,.

Plot 42 also came with a greenhouse. This is what it looks like on the inside - I'm not sure I want to attempt clearing it!

Back on Plot 31, the 'decking' area needs a good tidy up. The strawberries could do with being planted in a proper planter; the roses need weeding; the coldframe needs weeding and re-mudding...

But all in all, considering I'm not up there on a regular basis, it's doing alright! The grass needs mowing, there's a lot to be dug up, a lot to weed, and possibly extending more beds to be done. Plot 42 needs a good weeding, and for some more beds to be planned, weeded & dug. I'm also going to get some half-pipe guttering and put it up along the back of White Shed, and grow things in it - tumbling tomatoes, or strawbs, or herbs, or peas. Not sure yet! Maybe something of everything.

Since I got back from the plot(s), I have sown some yellow courgette seeds & rainbow chard seeds. There isn't enough room in my mothers greenhouse for anything else just yet! And as I'm not fully moved back in, I can't do it up the allotment because no one can get there everyday to tend to things. I think we may have yet another year of sowing & growing things all at the wrong time! We never learn, but it always works out. If Mother Nature wants it to grow, it will grow. I'm really glad I got that bed extended - it's been bugging me ever since I couldn't be bothered to finish digging it last year. Just wish my spade leg didn't hurt so much!

L x

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Part the First.

I intend for this to become a regular thing on my blog, at least weekly, but possibly fortnightly. I got the idea from someone else’s TILT post I saw a little while ago. I think it could be a good idea to help me realise just how much good stuff I have in my life; how much stuff I have to be grateful for. How much stuff we should all be grateful for.

I already have a few ideas for post themes. Family, dreadlocks, geology, books. However, this first one is on the theme of Health. More specifically, giving health or even life to others.

Today is Thursday 15th March, 2012, and today I gave blood.

I’ve given before (9 times now), it’s no big deal, but when you actually sit and think about it, it may well become a very big deal to someone, and that someone’s family. Normally I wouldn’t write a blog such as this, but I’m beginning to realise a few things in my life, and if I or any member of my family ever needed blood, I’d hope there was some going spare.

I have no idea if the pint (it’s not even a full pint – less than 500ml is taken) of red stuff I’ve just donated will be used for research, or as part of a routine transfusion, or as part of an emergency life-saving operation. I’ll never meet the people who have benefited, either directly or indirectly, from receiving my blood.

I know that as a B+, I’m quite rare – I make up 8% of the UK population. EIGHT. That’s not a lot. Only 10% of the population are blood group B.

Facts & figures are taken from, and more can be viewed, here: (It’s also quite ironic that I’m a ‘B Positive’, since I have depression!)

I’ll be honest; I’m not the world’s biggest fan of needles. I have to look away and think pleasant thoughts. When I went to have my tonsils out a few years ago, the nurse held my hand and talked to me while they injected the stuff into my hand. When I have blood taken, I have to look away (sometimes I faint). There was an occasion where I came very close to fainting just as I reach the tea and biscuits – kudos to the nurses who appeared out of nowhere, carried me to the bed, and within seconds I was flat on my back, feet in the air, fan on, cold press on, and someone watching over me. (I never did get my brew.)

I managed to almost faint today; nowhere near as spectacular as last time though!

Giving blood is sosoSO simple, so easy, so quick. I’m a fast bleeder, though sometimes I get told off for bleeding too quickly, and tonight the machine bleeped at me three times for not bleeding quick enough! The total time I’m there (including tea, biccies & gossip time) is probably less than an hour. I’ve started to call it mine & my moms “date night”, and I’m fairly sure we have a rep for being peculiar.

I didn’t start giving blood until I was 20ish. I used to go with my mom and sister and watch them, and laugh at them, and then drink tea & eat biccies. I used to sit and read the leaflet. I used to sing along to the radio. I used to stare when there was a bleeder at the tea table. Now, I give blood whenever I’m due – it’s about every 16 weeks.

It’s such a simple thing to do, such a simple way to help someone, to show you care. Yeah, so you may never meet them, but you do come away with a good feeling. You’re part of the club, you build up relationships with the nurses (meaning: you know which ones are gentle!), you become a regular at this little social event. I really really really believe more people should donate – I’d never force anyone, but if you want to change your life this year, Give Blood.

FYI, I go to the Northfield session, at Oddingley Hall. If you go to you can enter your postcode and find deets of the next and nearest session. Recruit a girlfriend/boyfriend/cousin/parent/sibling, and go. Turn it into an event; go to the pub after (not before!) or go and see a film, or whatever you want.

Also, here are some picture froms today:

L x

Monday, 12 March 2012


I've decided to get fit this year, properly fit. This will include getting fit for field trips next year, generally improving my cardiovascular fitness, doing my physio whilst walking (walking with my feet straight, holding abs in, shoulders down & back) in order to try and improve posture, and correct my turned-in-feet-ness.

I enjoy walking, so as such I've decided to finally get some of those tone-up trainer efforts (I've found some for less than £50; price was the reason I haven't bought any sooner), so I'll get some of them and go walkies.

As I'm moving back to B31 fairly soon, I've spent some of today messing around on Google Earth, learning how to annotate it and draw things and plan routes. This is the result:

Nine potential routes to walk, around my local area. Some are deliberately short - my mom sometimes comes on walks with me, but she can't walk far. In theory we can start with the shorter routes and build up to the longer ones. Personally, anything less than 2 miles isn't good enough for me! There are areas I'm avoiding - super chavvy areas where I'm likely to get stabbed/shot/raped/assaulted etc. - which is quite a challenge in B31!

I'm going to aim to go for a walk a day, along any of these routes. Generally, I walk a route one day, and then walk it again a few days later but in reverse. I find I notice different things!

I can't wait!

L x

Thursday, 8 March 2012

LapSoc Ball 2012

So last night was the annual LapSoc Geology Ball – LapSoc being the Geological Student Society at uni, of which I was part of the committee until a short time ago.

The LapSoc Ball is the biggest event of the Geologists calendar, a night for everyone from all years to get together and mingle, whether you’re single hons, joint hons, palaeo, natural scientists, or housemates of any of these. Post grads, post docs and teaching staff tend to come along too, making for a great atmosphere with plenty of banter. This year, the ex Head of School, Paul Smith, came along, as his final social with us.

Last nights Ball was held at the Tally Ho, near Edgbaston Cricket Ground. It is actually the function suite of the West Midlands Police training academy! We managed to secure this only a few weeks ago, so the rest of the committee had pulled out all the stops to host this ball – I can’t take credit for anything other than finding & securing the venue, as I had left the committee soon after this.

The decorations were simple but effective, the tables were dressed beautifully, enough tickets had been sold to allow for a large number of tables, thus filling out the room. Peasy Photos, who were at the ball last year, were back again, and there was another camera that put photos directly onto a big screen at the front. Entertainment was in the form of a live acoustic performer, Sam Tilley, and then later another guy came on and was singing (no one caught his name!). There as also a DJ, geologically themed cocktails at the bar, dinosaurs in the toilets, and Dimorphodon glider flying dinosaur kits on each table! Such little kids. Each person also had a sweet filled goody bag.

The three course meal was somewhat uh-maz-ing. I had stilton & broccoli soup starter; lamb shank with veg main and a white chocolate and raspberry torte pud. The torte was divine. Once again, kudos to the committee for everything!

I was really surprised at how many people turned out – at last years Ball, we thought we’d done well with 80. This year there was about 130 people! And then a few people turned up after the meal to join us for drinks & dancing. Many pictures were taken, many drinks were consumed. The awards ceremony was a first, and was highly entertaining! Definitely hope they carry on as a LapSoc Ball tradition!

It was a good chance for me to see people who I hadn’t seen in a while – I’ve not been at uni for the past couple of weeks – and I got to say goodbye to those who mattered. It was good fun, I enjoyed it, but my thoughts were somewhere else most of the night. I left quite early, I just couldn’t face being there any longer pretending I was fine. So thankyou if you gave me a squodge last night, I’ll probably come out with you all after exams, and I’ll see you all next year!!

L x

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Au Revoir, University!

So I suppose it’s probably time I ‘came out’ and told you all what my vague tweets have been about lately. You should all know I’ve been thinking about this since New Year; I’ve had these thoughts since we came back to university after Christmas. A few events in most recent weeks have just confirmed a few things to me.

I’m taking some time out from university.

By ‘some’ time, I mean, I intend to, hope to, am planning to return next January, to continue where I left off. I need a break. I need to get my health sorted, especially my mental health.

I’ve been mentally exhausted lately. I can’t think straight or focus on anything. I’ve not been sleeping well, my anxiety is going through the roof, and I’ve been feeling really incapable this year. All of these combined is playing havoc with my depression. I don’t think there’s been a day in the last four weeks that I haven’t cried. There’s no way I can complete second year when I can’t even get through a day without breaking down. There’s no way I could do a six week mapping project – I wouldn’t want to put this on the shoulders of the guys I’m meant to be going with. I’d feel even worse than I do now.

I still want this degree and I want a career in this field. I’m fairly confident that I can gain a really high class degree – I just don’t think I can do it this year. There’s no good time to take a year out of a degree, but this is probably the best time to do it. I can’t keep taking random days and weeks off to relax because I just get stressed about missing random days. It’s a vicious cycle.

This year, I hope to get myself sorted – really, truly, sorted. Currently, my medication has been increased, I’m back to weekly GP appointments and I’m investigating counselling. In the meantime I want to do some volunteering – I think now’s the time to do those things I said I would when I was watching my Nan die for a period of 6 weeks. I’m going to spend some time with my family, watch the niece and nephew grow and develop. I’m going to spend time up at my allotments, getting back to nature. I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to look at doing a couple of one day courses at my local college. I just need this time for me. I’m going to try different therapies and workshops and things to help me understand my depression and to try and overcome it.

I need to remember why I love geology, why I want it. I need to realise how far I’ve come and how close I am. I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I’m just turning up and doing something, because it pleases people. I’m getting really good grades, but they mean nothing to me.

I always say I don’t do things if it jeopardises my health, and at the moment, it is. I haven’t been 100% well since I had a chest infection last month and that’s dragging me down.

I need to do this for me, my sanity. I can get a degree at any time in my life; I only get one attempt with my health.

I’ll admit that over the past week or so I’ve been having the thoughts of just staying, getting my head down and getting on with it – to be honest, these thoughts make me feel worse. At the moment, I think I’ll regret going. However, if I don’t do it, I’ll regret not doing it. Whenever I take a few days off, I feel better, and I go back to uni and I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I can’t cope anymore. Maybe I’m just not cut out for uni? Or maybe I am, just not at this moment. I think it’ll always bug me that I’ve had to do this, but I need to put myself first for a change. I need to get my health sorted, I need to learn how I work so I can deal with this in the future. There’s no miracle cure for depression, but there are tricks to alleviate it. I need to learn some of these over the next year. This hasn’t been an easy choice for me, please don’t think I’m taking it lightly. I’ve been thinking about it since Christmas. I just need to do it, for me. I’m all too aware that people won’t understand where I’m coming from (members of my family included), and I have a feeling I’m going to be fighting a battle with them over the next few months. Hopefully when I go back in January 2013 they’ll see why I had to do it. I feel like a huge weights been lifted off since I made this decision, and while I have these thoughts of making a huge mistake, I need to go with my decision, my gut feeling.

All I ask is that you support me – I can answer your questions until the cows come home but you’ll never understand.

L x