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First week

Well, I've been in the country just over a week now. It's been a combination of being absolutely hectic and having stuff all to do. I've got a staff card but no email or access to my office yet, and my computer hasn't arrived either! So I'm working on my battered old laptop (it's third trip to Oz), spending most of my days trying to find somewhere to live and most of my evenings watching rubbish telly and playing the guitar.

Even though I haven't done any real work yet, I've already got involved with outreach. I'm helping out this afternoon with a visit by a group of 30-ish school students who have a strong interest in science. They're visiting the astronomy group so we're taking them up on the roof to play with some telescopes. I'm looking after the optical telescope - a little SC Meade with a solar filter and an LPI camera. There is also a small radio dish being looked after by Bruce, a PhD student in the group, and a low frequency dipole and receiver that my boss is going to demonstrate.

At coffee this morning we were discussing outreach more generally. The group gets a lot of requests for talks, school visits and the like and I've been asked to coordinate all the outreach activities. This is going to involve quite a bit of work for next year's International Year of Astronomy. I can't wait!

Posted by Megan on Tuesday 27th May 2008 (04:49 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink

Awesome!

Before I left the UK, I was keen to get in a bit more outdoor climbing. Last weekend my boyfriend and I went out to Hathersage and spent two days with a couple of instructors. On Saturday we went to a small limestone quarry called Aldery Cliff and climbed a couple of easy routes. We climbed Nettlerash a total of three times: first as a second unclipping the rope from the gear as we went, then leading it with an additional top rope as a backup, the leading it without the top rope. It's scary enough leading indoors when you haven't done it for a while, leading outdoors takes some getting used to! After lunch we went over to Matlock Bath and climbed Lynx, a two-pitch climb at Wildcat just over the main road from the Heights of Abraham. The climb was 46m in total and the view was pretty impressive from the top. Rappeling back down was fun, too!

On Sunday we met up in Hathersage again and drove just down the road to Stanage (popular). We did a couple of climbs at Black Hawk area. This is where our relative heights showed in our techniques: while Roy was tall enough to reach the good holds, I had to rely on hand jams and try and get my feet higher before I could reach! Then we did a 22m climb up a really impressive crack which was (I think) Robin Hood's Right-Hand Butress Direct. The crack was so wide, and I was so short, that to make progress in places I was using full-blown arm jams.

As well as climbing some pretty impressive bits of rock, we learnt a lot as well. I'd never belayed with an Italian hitch before, never used a prusik, never placed any gear or set up anchors. Now I've had a go at all of it and I'm looking forward to climbing some Australian cliffs with a bit more confidence!

Posted by Megan on Wednesday 07th May 2008 (09:15 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink

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