Lying in bed, watching the grey winter light slowly filter through the gap in the curtains I remember the heating is turned off. I can feel the chill of the early morning air rest heavily on my arm as I pull it slowly from the protection of the bed covers and rest it on top. The hotwater bottle still has the last vestiges of warmth and I dig my toes into it. It’s another early start and through the window which is ajar, I hear the sound of a solitary black bird, signalling its presence and establishing its territory.
It’s difficult to remember what day it is. The days and weeks rush by in a kaleidoscope of impressions and experiences and activity. Each day has a tendency to merge into the next. But, for all the early starts and late finishes, there is a sense of achievement and progress. Taking abstract and theoretical knowledge and ideas gathered over the last few years and crafting them into a tangible output has some practical value and is a rewarding way to pass one’s time and to earn one’s money. But I am aware of how ‘green’ I am in some areas. I think it was Aristotle who said, “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know”.
A trip to Cranfield to meet one of the academic directors who I have, until now, only exchanged emails with proves to be an interesting and useful meeting. There is an invitation to submit a paper to his journal. After the meeting I wander around the campus for a bit, getting a sense of scale and stature and imagining what it might be like to work there. I compare it to Warwick and Cambridge and Bristol campuses where I have also been spending some time and then go on to compare it to UCLA, Berkeley and Harvard. So many different places, so many different opportunities. So many different prospective futures. It’s a bit like an academic career equivalent of the 1998 film Sliding Doors. And if things are hectic on the work front, they are just as hectic on the social front. An Old Girl’s reunion and a chance to catch up with school friends, supper parties with friends which are full of fun, laughter and surprising conversations. Another rowing lesson where, once again, I manage to remain upright and will progress, next week, to a proper racing scull. This week we learned how to begin to manoeuvre our boat on the spot. It feels almost impossible at first, but with lots of concentration and a logical approach to the problem I eventually work it out. Never have I been so happy as to learn how to go around in circles.
Slightly slower progress for the new greetings card business and the Everest preparation because there has been so much to think about over the last few weeks and so many other priorities. But my photos are given a confidence-building nod by a professional photographer who also inspires me to hold an exhibition of my work so I am looking into the cost of hiring one of the rooms at Stamford Arts Centre. I also find, out of the blue, that I am to be made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. And, in amongst everything that is happening, I am thinking about my next nevertoolate challenge in the short-term – attempting the Olympic bob-sled run in Lillehammer, Norway.