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Life goes on…

September 11, 2016

Nine months since a blog post – it is crazy how time flies! I promise I’ve not been neglecting my #scicomm duties, there’s been plenty of sightseeing, and a fair amount of cooking too. So, a few updates and musings on what’s been going on.

It’s now dangerously close to being two years since I got my post-PhD job and moved back to Plymouth. Terrifying. I will admit that I had been completely unprepared for how tough it was going to be to adapt to life back in Plymouth/the UK in general. Despite it being nearly two years since we left Cape Town, there is still a palpable hole in life that I cannot really fill. We have tried very hard to build a life here, and have succeeded in so many ways – we have a fantastic group of friends and colleagues, we love where we work, we’ve nearly renovated our own home and have a menagerie of pets. We’ve found things to like about the South West, and it has been lovely to see friends and family around the UK more regularly. We’ve also travelled a lot to Europe, for holidays and work, visiting Iceland, Prague, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Germany and Italy since the beginning of 2016! This has been a particular blessing recently, with my fear of flying pretty much put to rest by the wonderful chances to meet fantastic people and experience these interesting places. Going back to Cape Town was also just brilliant, and so many friendships and work connections there remain as strong as ever.

The events leading up to, and since June 23rd, have hit us hard.  There’s the practical aspects of what happens with regards to our house value, the economy, potential cuts to vital services etc. But there are also some very fundamental things for us that are impacted. There is much uncertainty about what will happen for us with regards to work, which is never just a job for scientists, it is a key part of who we are. For now we have no option but to continue working as usual.  As people who have worked overseas (I like to remind people that I was an immigrant, who’s life was paid for by another government for the 4 years I was in SA), who’s work is inherently collaborative and fundamentally built on European projects, who concern themselves with international problems, and who’s friends are defined by much more than where they happened to be born, the decision to leave the EU is in direct contrast to almost all our principles. I highly doubt we would have returned to the UK, had this been the situation when we made our decision. So recently it has been really hard to be positive about a future in the UK, and has lead to some pretty dark days when combined with the rest of life’s ups and downs.

But, as the title says, life goes on. We are where we are, and we still have a wonderful place to go to work to every day, and awesome friends. And the exciting work continues. I’ve spent a lot of the last few months doing media related work, involving a lot of time with a film crew – a fantastic learning experience for me and a chance to share what we do with the public, who are after all, the people we really do this for. Separate posts to come on my involvement with this but you can register for two open online courses I’m involved in here (on optical satellite data) and here (more generally on satellite data and the oceans).

We’ve also just returned from a fantastic conference at the European Space Agency, which brought together ocean colour scientists from all around the world. I really enjoyed giving a talk and helping to coordinate discussion sessions to provide a roadmap for future research directions. I’ve spoken before about how welcoming and enthusiastic the ocean colour community is, and this only seems to continue. The science has progressed so much in the short time I’ve been a research scientist, particularly because of the amazing investment in new sensors (such as the recently launched, and continuing to be launched, Sentinel series), and supporting programmes like Copernicus. I’m also throwing myself in to proposal writing, managing multiple projects, and building networks of new collaborators, all exciting activities for my career development.

Food wise there has been much deliciousness on all the travels, but maybe not as much cooking as usual. We have largely been eating vegetarian, and been quite successful at this (see my instagram for some dishes!). However, most excitingly, we have just put down the deposit on our new kitchen, which I helped design! This is a dream come true for me and I cannot wait for it to be installed next month. Hopefully this will be the push I need to get back in to some food blogging.

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