Friday, 30 January 2009

Over the moon!

Greetings one and all!
As I was saying last time, 2008 was a funny old year - a few exceptionally good bits and an awful lot of grim stuff. But 2009 has got off to an exciting start with Ruth getting a new job in the Midlands, and now, just a few days ago, I received an email from UCAS to say.....
wait for it......
I have been offered an UNCONDITIONAL place to study Geology
on their 4 year MGeol Masters degree course
at Leicester University from September 2009!!!
How cool is that, huh?
To say that I am over the moon would be something of an understatement! I am almost soiling my underwear with the excitement of it all! It's the 'unconditional' part that has really surprised me a bit, to be honest. I rather thought that any offer would be conditional on me passing the Open University Science Foundation course at least and maybe have to attend an interview. But it seems I must have made some sort of decent impression during the course of last July's Open Day to be offered a place straight off! FANTASTIC! It also means that the pressure to pass the OU course is off, so I can relax a bit more, just enjoy the learning and not get so stressed on the run up to the assignments.
For an idea of what I will be getting up to in the not too distant future have a little click on this, the Leicester University's Geology web page:-
Just imagine the change:- here I am sitting in the same old office, bored rigid, drawing yet another road to yet another housing development or whatever. Now, before me is the chance to get out in the open air to study rocks, fossils and everything else that shapes this amazingly complex and fascinating world. Instead of sitting in an office every day I will be visiting, Arran, Wales, Tenerife, Spain, the Alps and who knows where else! Pinch me someone, I must be dreaming!!!
Lord knows, give me a few years, I might even be taking people on tours like my geologist chum from the other side of the herring pond, Wayne Ranney! He's currently on an amazing 'Private Jet Expedition' covering Madeira, Burkino Faso, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Horn and Panama! Nice work if you can get it!
I can't wait to get cracking, but wait I must! There's the small matter of funding to sort out, which is not as straight forward as it should be. It seems my previous period of study, back in 1978-81, which was funded by a local authority grant affects my entitlement to further funding now! So it may be that I will have to defer my place to the 2010 intake to give me time to save up a few pennies! That would be a bit frustrating but as I've waited this long for the opportunity, another year won't be too bad and knowing that the place is there ready and waiting will give me something to look forward to!
In the meantime, we'll have to sell the house (not easy in the current climate!), get a new temporary job and move. So no stress there then? It will be a weird old year, spending so much of the next 6 months apart from my wife and youngest daughter, but as I keep saying to Ruth, we must focus on the goals and take one step at a time! Everything will fall into place in the fullness of time, you see if it don't!
See y'all later!
Cheers, Alyn

Monday, 5 January 2009

A look back at '08 and forward to an exciting 2009!

Happy New Year!

Well, that's that for another year then! Christmas festivities have come and gone and we're now into 2009! As is usual, one takes a look back at the year just passed and for me and my family, 2008 was mixed - a lot of dull, frustrating, annoying, at times depressing and thoroughly average days, broken up by a few exciting events that lifted the gloom!

The trip to Arizona and Grand Canyon was (as I have mentioned many times already!) was the outstanding highlight. Ruth and I also had a great time in August travelling round Britain on the 'Carillon Tour' - a tour of most of the UK's Carillons with Ruths' sister Caroline who is the Carilloneur for Loughborough in Leicestershire. For the uninitiated, a Carillon is a fascinating and rare (in the UK at least) musical instrument, consisting of varying numbers of static bells, played by a clavier or baton keyboard.

A Carillon clavier, this one at Bourneville in Birmingham

The tour took us as far north as Aberdeen in Scotland and as south at Spalding in Lincolnshire. It was a fun and fascinating way to spend a summer and certainly beat sitting on a beach! It gave me much more respect for these things....

Bells! This whopper is also from the Bournville Carillon.

Anyone interested in reading a lot more about Carillons can take a look at the outstanding daily blog we did during the tour, expertly written by my dear wife Ruth. Just click here.

So what of 2009?

Well, exciting stuff in store! In February, Ruth starts her new job in the midlands, which means that Ruth and Aimee (our youngest), will move down to Loughborough, while Anna and I will remain in Lancashire until Anna does her GCSE's in the summer. In the meantime, we'll be rushing back and forth between Loughborough and Lancs at weekends. Splitting up the family temporarily isn't ideal I guess, but as we have always planned to relocate back to my wife's home town at some stage, at least we can do it gradually, rather than try to sell up, move, get jobs, etc, etc, all at once! At least this way the stress load can be spread over several months - well, that's the theory anyway! In between, we'll need to do a lot of decoration of our house to get it in sufficiently good shape to either sell or rent out - preferably the former! Plus of course, the Open University course continues, so I'll have to find sufficient time to continue the studies!!! Phew!

So, exciting things ahead! I'll keep ypu posted!

Cheers for now!