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

My Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump

Christmas Eve 2014 in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Emily told me to go jump off a bridge, so I did.
43 metres above the glistening blue waters of the Kawarau river I perched on a wooden ledge – a towel tied around my ankles with a flexible cord dangling from it and a guy stood behind me telling me to jump. This wasn’t some sick nightmare, I’d actually paid to be here. And despite what my stomach was telling me, I was about to jump.
I took my last look down, the water looked so inviting, but I’m sure there were better ways to go for a dip in it. Nethertheless, I jumped. I had wanted to scream “YIPPIE KAI YAY” or yell out a manly roar, but in the moment all I did was fall – which came very naturally, I might add.
The water was hitting my hands before I knew it, cold and refreshing, but most importantly – I’d made it. I swung back up again, being tossed around by physics like a rag doll in a washing machine – and I loved every second of it. The smiles were all real.
I finally got into the support boat, and it was to be another 5 minutes before my heartbeat would return to its resting pace. Another New Zealand memory I won’t forget in a hurry.

Read more about our trip over on Tumblr

Charles Gray MPhil BEng