Lyme Regis Fossil Festival

First major museum field trip! We were given a section at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival alongside a good handful of colleagues from around the museum. Our demonstrations were on 3D surface scanning and creating 3D images and prints within the Natural History Museum. But first, I had to get there.

Had a bit of a hiccup Wednesday evening. I had already intended on doing half a day in the office and then heading back up to Chelmsford on the train so M and I could drive down. Unfortunately, either I straight up lost my season ticket holder or someone nicked it. Regardless, I ended up halfway to Liverpool Street Station via the District Line before I realised what had happened. Apparently if you come up to the station staff at the barrier gates with a concerned look on your face and tell them you’ve lost your Oyster card, they’re really pretty helpful. Greater Anglia, not so much. The lady at the desk was lovely enough, but unlike TfL they won’t just replace your lost/stolen card. Even though it’s a SmartPass and all the details are saved in the system that prove it’s me. They were kind enough to freeze the card and let me buy a single ticket home. Ugh.

Thankfully, the monthly passes were both set to expire before I got back from travelling anyway, so that wasn’t too awful. Even better, my manager is a saint and let me work from home for the half day. Probably for the best, as we were definitely not packed the night before in any useful amounts. Eventually, the significant otter left the hospital and we packed up the car to drive the 4.5 hours to Lyme Regis.

The drive was gloriously uneventful and we made it in around 10 pm. Everyone else was already at the cottage and set up, so we all caught up and then headed to bed. It was due to be a busy day the next day.

IMG_4376
The view from our cottage room Friday morning.

The next morning was our schools day. Constant streams of small children in washes of different coloured uniforms poured through the doors. Most had the level of excitement and attention you’d expect at that age, but some were genuinely thrilled by the prospect of 3D and microscopes. It’s a beautiful moment to watch the beginnings of a small scientist. 🙂

M had of course come down with me, but obviously wasn’t part of the museum so enjoyed a nice lie in and a wander around the town while the rest of us were up at the Fossil Festival location. At lunchtime I got a break and he and I wandered around together and enjoyed the distinct lack of rain (It’s either full on or off at the English coast. I’m convinced there’s no in between.). This year, the Fossil Festival was being held across the town rather than in one location, so we went to see what other groups were doing, between strolling the beach and eating chips cautiously. (Seriously, the seagulls were downright predatory if you weren’t careful.)

It was a trip to the pub after the event wrapped up for the night and a game of skittles, then a slog up the 14% incline of a hill back to our cottage. (Views like that don’t come for nothing!) The next day was our busiest day of the weekend, and we went out in full force. We scanned objects from fossils to children’s wellies, and showed 3D images from microscopic to full size. The public engagement and honest excitement and interest was fantastic. We guessed from rough estimates that we had probably 230 people come and chat with us.

There was a brief lull around lunchtime, probably due to the lovely weather and hungry children. That was quickly rectified though with an inflatable T. rex costume and a walk down the pier. People seem to want to know where a dinosaur and giggling museum staff are headed. Who would have guessed?

Before we all set off for another trip to another pub for food, it was mandatory for me to go see the grave of Mary Anning. You see, Mary Anning was one of the pioneers in fossil collecting and helped to change the views on what prehistoric life even was. Of course, she was ignored in her own time, despite her accomplishments, and didn’t even get a grave to herself. Instead, she is buried with her brother. Still, she was a really interesting lady that you should read into if you have a free moment. She is the “she sells seashells on the seashore” inspiration behind the tongue twister!

The evening was spent roving the town with my colleagues and M, eventually ending up at a party held at the house of a local fossil collector. I’m still not entirely sure how so many people ended up in such as small area, but it was a riot of a time. Because I am an old lady, M and I bowed out around midnight for home. Most of the rest of the crew didn’t come home until gone 2ish, from what I was told. And who says scientists are boring?

IMG_4488The final day dawned and we all managed to arrive in mostly one piece. Our scanning did get a bit silly as the day went on, but the public seemed to rather enjoy it. I mean really, who doesn’t like a pork pie – digital or real? (Okay okay, maybe just me. But it was good fun!)

It was throwing down sheets of drizzle all day, so having a nice walk at break time was a bit out of the question. At that point though, I was too tired and cold to want more than caffeine and dry shoes. Lesson learned for next year – prepare to get by on a lot less sleep than usual.

At the end of it all though, we all cleared up the location and headed out for one last night on the town with the NHM crew. It was a lovely bonding moment for all of us, and I can see why people come back again and again to do it. I think I may need the year to recover, but it’d be good fun to go back again next time! Now hang on until next week and I’ll tell you about how we got in the car and drove straight for the coasts of the other end of the country.

— Kate

Let’s just go!

The university has opened online registration, and I am officially signed up (as much as I can before my campus visa checkpoint – don’t ask, I have no idea) for the University of Leicester! My student ID should be ready for me when I get there. I’m excited. 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.34.34 pmScreen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.34.43 pmAlso got word from the Museum Studies department with a tentative schedule of the first two weeks, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see that classes aren’t really early so far. I was trying to prepare myself for 8:00 times, but 9 and 10 are totally cool too. Just from the titles, it looks like a fascinating start!

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.43.37 pm

So now I’m only really left with buying a ticket for the bus, a ticket for the train to Leicester, and packing my bags. It’s one thing to sell off most of your life to get ready to live out of what fits in a suitcase. It’s another thing entirely when you start to fill up said suitcase. SO MANY THINGS. SO MANY CHOICES. What have I forgotten that might actually be really important?

Considering I’m to be living in Leicester for a year (10 months actually, then 2 months out interning, then who knows where next?), I really can’t bring all that much along with me. I suspect leaving the country makes a minimalist out of you eventually. I took the main idea of a packing list from Study Abroad and tweaked it a bit, but do you see anything I’m missing or really won’t need? I haven’t done a weigh in on my bags quite yet, so there may be some tossing out of things anyhow.

In reality, I can almost promise it will be me shoving what remains of my closet after losing weight these last two years into my bag with the questionably useful and/or ill-fitting but still beloved clothing going in last in case they need to be pulled out and left behind. Mom also managed to find a carry-on sized space saver bag, so the sweaters may be getting the big squeeze and going in my carry-on bag. Honestly though, I don’t think the weight limit is going to be a major issue. But with no further ramblings, I’ll leave you with the ULTIMATE STUDY ABROAD PACKING LIST. 😛

— Kate

The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List

Clothing:

  • Underwear – two weeks’ worth (Two weeks worth? Let’s be real. All the underwear comes along. We don’t leave behind good underwear.)
  • Socks – two weeks’ worth (Yeah yeah, it’ll be the ones that aren’t questionably falling apart. They’re socks. Pretty sure I can get a new pair or two in England, just possibly.)
  • Camisoles (Layering all day, err’ day.)
  • Thermal leggings (I seriously doubt the use of these, but man are they comfy.)
  • Tops
  • Sweaters
  • Trousers
  • Skirts
  • A set or two of workout clothes (Will it promote my going to the gym? Unlikely.)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Coat/Jacket
  • At least one nice outfit for formal occasions
  • Shoes (I fear my fancy sandals will not see much use, but then again, I’ve been living in Chacos since March. Yay for my body always running on high heat?)

Toiletries:

  • TSA Compliant Toiletry Kit (Enough to clean up for a day or two until I get things there. I can already sense my desperate need to shower upon arrival after learning my lesson last time.)
  • Brush and comb (If they weren’t needed right after said emergency shower, I’d say forget it.)
  • Contact lenses and solution (Yay being blind!)
  • Glasses (Does this really count if it’s on my face?)
  • Nail clippers (Teeny tiny justifiable-bringing-along-in-case-of-brutal-hangnail-attack pair.)
  • Makeup (No one likes to play games with new brands on makeup. Especially not ALL the makeup at once.)
  • Medications (Yay drugs! Now to make sure they all have my name written on them.)

Extras:

  • Some cash in £ (Pleased with myself now for having a handful of £2 coins and a fiver that accidentally came home with me last year. That’s some snack money whilst in the customs line!)
  • Purse/ wallet
  • Important documents (passport, visa, itinerary, plane tickets, ISIC card, etc.)
  • Outlet adapter (Actually not sure I’ll need one. Livin’ the USB plug life means international is SO much easier.)
  • Sunglasses (Didn’t need these once last time. I blame it on living in big sky country for the last four years.)
  • Cell phone with changed out SIM card for UK and USB charger (Many thanks for getting me that old iPhone unlocked and a UK SIM shipped over!)
  • Laptop and charger (Must not forget to change the plug on the charger!)
  • Camera w/cords and USB charger
  • Kindle and USB charger
  • Water bottle/ Nalgene bottle (Depending on space/amount of cares given, might just get one past security. I’m flying BA, they dole out tea and wine like it’s going out of style.)