Thursday, May 11, 2006

Welcome Back

Erm... yeah.... been a while, hasn't it? I never was any good at this blogging thing - I'll try get a bit more regular with it, but don't get your hopes up.

So what have you been up to, I hear you ask? Well...

Firstly, the PhD thing didn't work out. Apparently scholarship funds aren't as easy to come by as I was lead to believe. As a result I was forced to leave Hull once I'd done my MSc thesis (well, that was the plan...) and so I'm now in Southampton, working for the ECS at the University of Southampton. It's probably the best possible outcome, as they're really focused on the kind of things I'm interested in here, although after a somewhat tortuous interview I'm still treading on eggshells in fear of being found out for a fraud (I'm not, but compared to some of the people here I feel like one).

Southampton itself is much like Hull (port town, full of chavs), although I'm sure that if I was to suggest that to anyone here they'd argue otherwise. It's definitely true what they say though: people are friendlier up north, and I've so far found it really hard to break into any kind of social scene, which just makes me miss the good old days of my time in Hull all the more.

In my last post (over a year ago!) I mentioned that home would be soon moving to the French/Spanish border. Well, I was partly right. Turns out it's northern Spain instead, and very nice it is too. I intend to get some nice canvas prints of the view from the house printed up - the mountains are lush with forests and fields, and looking out across the valley is far preferable to staring at the magnolia wall in my flat. Anyway, I can highly recommend a visit to the Galicia region of Spain - and that's not just because I'm duty-bound to do so.

Being in the south again has had the slightly unexpected benefit of being close to my dad again. I was partly dreading being within range of my parents again, after having spent so long in Hull safely out of their reach, but now that he and his family are less than an hour away we've grown closer. It's almost as if my life so far were about me and my mum, and from now on my dad will be able to play a bigger role.

It's great having someone you can go visit whenever you want, and reassuring to know that there's someone not too far away when you are feeling too ill to go to the chemists or have failed in an attempt to put together some flat-pack furniture twice the size of you with inadequate tools. These are perils you don't even consider when you decide to live alone, and are really rather scary when you first realise that, actually, there really is no one around who will care or even know when you do yourself a mischief or are feeling unwell. Having lived in a shared house all my life (either at home or in student houses) this came as a huge shock to the system.

Anyway, that's enough for now. I'm sure I'll post again soon - not sure exactly what about, but I'm sure I'll find something.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bath and the Spanish Border

This one's by special request; here you go Kim.

I was asked this week if I wanted to spend a week in Bath (no not the sud tub, the historic Roman city in the south-west of England). The concept of a "home town" is a little alien to anyone who's lived in a place as rural as Wiltshire, but I guess if I were to be pressed into nominating a home city then it'd be either Bath or Bristol (it probably defaults to Bath since that's marginally closer).

Unfortunately however, despite being a very picturesque city, it's not much of a cultural centre, in that most of the interesting stuff happens in Bristol. Despite this, if you ever do find yourself along that part of the Avon river, you really must check out the Royal Crescent and the Abbey (all tourists have a duty to see those), and also the Theatre Royal (still one of the best theatres I've been to) and get a burger from Schwartz Bros. - they only exist in Bath and have been there for years and will make you wonder why you ever put up with MuckDonalds in the first place.

Looking further ahead, I'm really hating the fact I don't know what I'm going to be doing this time next year. I'd like to be still here in Hull studying for a PhD, but until I get confirmation of funding in July I can't make any plans either way. All this is very annoying; there's major birthdays and gatherings I'm being asked to commit to but can't, and to add to the confusion mum's planning on being somewhere other than the UK by 2006, possibly for good.

Current plans revolve around the French/Spanish border - the French side is about £60k cheaper than the Spanish side. If she moves down there there's not much left for me in the UK - aside from my life in Hull, of course. The fact I don't know French or Spanish doesn't really matter to me; if I live there I soon will. And all computer scientists speak English anyway, don't they? ;-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Pros and Cons of Graduating

It's been 5 months since I and my yearmates graduated from our degrees, and it's been interesting to see what's happened to our lives since then.

It was a little depressing to realise that having a degree wasn't the golden ticket that we were sold when we filled in our UCAS forms three years previously - that's not to say that undergraduate university wasn't everything it was made out to be, just that the end result came as a bit of a shock. A lot of my friends were finding that work wasn't just handed to them on a plate, and that, despite having a degree, the workplace still required them to gain 6 months worth of experience before they could get a job worth having. I've watched them go from appallingly paid jobs with equally bad prospects through a number of interviews and rejections until they're finally in a position (mostly) to get a job that they want: Rob will be starting his job in January and Arthur is making his way in Thompson (formerly Liquent, formerly CDC).

For my non-computer science friends, the tale's no better - a little worse, if anything. Both Lauren and Aimeé did reasonably well in their Psychology degrees, scoring a 2:1 each, but Lauren's back at home stuck in a dead-end job in Next and Aimeé's working in finance in a job she's not 100% happy about either.

In the letter she sent me with the Christmas card I got today (partly what prompted me to write this blog entry), Lauren says that she "needs some inspiration". I don't really know what to say to that, but I hope she finds it and soon - she deserves better than Next for the rest of her life (or even the next 5 years).

So, to the kids reading this (by that I mean 18 or below), be careful to choose a degree that will get you a job you'll be happy with and can move on from, and to all the oldies (that's anyone who's already joined the world of work), yes, I know, you told us so.

Monday, December 20, 2004


A recent chat with cuz Sarah has prompted me to start a more personal blog, so here goes. I've no idea how often it'll get updated, but that's the nature of the beast.

Currently at home for Christmas - though I'm not sure exactly where 'home' is, right now. Guess that makes me homeless. Either way, I'm currently in Wiltshire - home of olde.

Spent today with Caroline ('Cat', formerly 'Cazz'); went for lunch, then bowling that was limited only by the strength of our wrists (10lb balls get kinda heavy after 140 throws...), and then back to hers for some trashy student TV. It was good to see her again, and a darn sight better than the 'effort' made by the guys on Saturday (cheers lads).

I think this will probably be one of my last times in Wiltshire: Tom's lease runs out in July, and after that there's really not much here for me. And so closes that chapter in my life.

I think the next chapter will be based in Hull: been there for getting on 4 years now, and it's growing on me; I don't really want to leave. I'm happy there, enjoying the vibrant student life and all that goes with it (especially cheap beer!), and I think I've found my niché - at least for a while. Now all I've got to do is secure the funding to let my little world continue on its merry path.