All posts by Charles

10 Achievements in 2015

2015 was a year of big change in my life. Here are 10 moments in 2015 that I think sum up the year pretty well.

April: Played in my first Roller Derby game ever


May: Completed Tough Mudder, an 11km assault course

Tough MUdder

May: Presented my PhD research at Eurographics in Switzerland


May: Garden Society got a new committee and won over £1,500 to spend on beekeeping equipment (amongst other things)

Garden Soc

May: Quitting my PhD. Long story, but in short I wasn’t happy with the direction the research was going in and I wanted to work on something that had more real-world prospects.


Jul – Starting my new job as an Integration Test Engineer at Sky UK, working on the new Sky Q product


Jul – Watching Hamilton win the British GP at Silverstone with my Nephew


Aug – Taking the boat to Bristol. It was a very long way to go, and it took most of the summer in weekends, but it was 100% worth it!


Aug – Moving in with Emily to a (very) little place we can call our own (for the next 12 months)


Nov – Winning prize at CVMP. Very unexpected, but still very cool!


Who knows what 2016 will bring!

Gardeners know all the dirt

Lots has been happening in the Campus Garden in the last couple of months, and I’ve been writing about it over on the Garden Soc blog. Go and have a read to find out about how we sold our first crop, finding edible plants on campus and to see more pictures.

Here are a few pictures I took on Tuesday.

Rough Shudder

I won 3 mini bottles of wine for reciting pi to 52 decimal places. Geekiest thing I've ever done?
I won 3 mini bottles of wine for reciting pi to 52 decimal places. Geekiest thing I’ve ever done?

The last month has been an interesting one. Certainly a lot has happened over Easter that has got me thinking about my long-term career prospects and even short-term goals.

To start with, the University has started an ‘Operational Review’ seemingly in an attempt to stifle research efforts and reduce the student experience all in the name of short-term cost-savings. My two cents is that the university should be investing in better marketing to entice new undergraduate students to Surrey instead of the other top universities with with we now compete due to increased entry requirements. But what do I know, every time students are ‘spoken down to’ regarding the changes, dumbing down information with meaningless metaphors and simply saying ‘don’t worry your little heads about it, let the adults work it out’. Frankly, it’s pathetic.

The food at vegfest this year was really good. I'm still not convinced about the whole "meat-free meat" thing though.
The food at vegfest this year was really good. I’m still not convinced about the whole “meat-free meat” thing though.

Moving on to something more exciting and positive, Emily and I went on a boating weekend in March. Just the two of us in the fresh midlands countryside gave us time to relax and get away from all the stress of operational reviews, thesis reports and conference deadlines. Life in the slow lane for 48 hours. It was bliss. To say I’m looking forward to this summer’s marathon boat trip to Bristol would be an understatement.

Back to PhD life again, and it was time for my thesis review at the end of March. This is a new report you have to write for your 2-year milestone. It caused much argument and debate between my supervisor and I for a good many weeks, resulting in a stale-mate where neither of us are happy with the outcome. I’m still unsure about what to do about this, but thankfully the head of department has been very helpful in moving things along, albeit with me still carrying more than a teaspoon full of scepticism. Alas.

carrying these back from the Boat Race on packed public transport was totally worth it.
Carrying these back from the Boat Race on packed public transport was totally worth it.

I’ve been taking more of an interest in my personal fitness again. Stuart and I are still going climbing on a weekly basis and hoping to transcend to new heights by taking our skills outdoors very soon. I’ve been keenly going to weekly Roller Derby sessions, and went to cheer on the girls team in a game in Coventry a few weeks back.

By far my biggest achievement recently has been playing in my first Roller Derby game! It was a men’s rookie game made up of guys from various teams around the country. Playing with people I’d never met before in front of a crowd (containing my parents!) could be described as being “thown in at the deep end”, but Emily had made me a sign saying “BRING THE POWER” and I managed to score 14 points for my team! It was a great learning experience and I’m now eagerly awaiting my next chance to play.

If that wasn’t enough fitness news, I’m attempting Tough Mudder on Saturday. I say attempting because it’s a 12-mile military-style obstacle course and I’ve done next to no training. Should be a laugh. I might die.


Sky Garden