Summer bivi - Snugpak Softie 3 sleeping bag review

Summer bivi - Snugpak Softie 3 sleeping bag review

We set up our mats and sleeping bags and slept out in the open. It was a clear night, but I was warm in my Snugpak Softie 3 (Temp rating 5 - 0C), however I did pop my bivi bag over the top for protection from the dew!

I had an inflatable mat and a foam mat beneath to stop the chill. I find I loose most of my heat through the ground. So with this set up I stayed warm all night. The Snugpak softie packs down really small and felt warm once I snuggled up inside. It has a drawstring hood and can either be L or R side zip. As someone who is 6ft 1 tall I fitted in well. I think for smaller ladies it would be too long. However, for those of us who are tall it is perfect size! They do an extra long for the even taller too.

Three reasons why being in nature and the outdoors is good for our health and wellbeing

Get outside for some fresh air, it’ll work wonders!

Woodlands on the Downs, Clifton, Bristol. May 2018 - Film photo Pentax K1000, Kodak Colour 250

I am sure you, just like me, have at one point or another been told to get outdoors to blow the cobwebs away - but why? The idea for this blog post came about after listening to the Radio 4 Forest 404 podcast on the train last weekend (listen to it! its a super cool eco-thriller with the soundtrack by Bonobo and supporting science snippets! whats not to love!). Whilst listening to a supporting science snippet from Alex Smalley from the regarding the outdoors and wellbeing, I realised I’d camped more weekends in the last month than slept in my own bed. Plus I’m imminently off on holiday for another 8 days of camping! I am fairly certain that despite it’s amazingness my thermarest isn’t as luxuriously comfortable as my double bed. So, there must be another draw to being out in nature.

Reason 1: Our hard-wired love for nature

We humans have something deep within our psyche pushing us towards tree-hugging… “biophilia”; we love (philia) connecting with living (bio) things. The “biophilia hypothesis” first introduced and popularised by Edward O. Wilson in 1984 suggested that this connection with nature is why we enjoy looking at baby animals, have pets, decorate our homes with house plants and spend time outdoors.

Playing on the beach, me and my sister 1997, in Majorca.

Playing on the beach, me and my sister 1997, in Majorca.

Have we lost touch?

However, as we have become more developed, in turn spending more time indoors and behind screens we have also become more disconnected with nature. A National Trust report coins that we as a nation, especially our children, are exhibiting symptoms of the modern phenomenon ‘Nature Deficit Disorder, children watch more than 17 hours of television per week, but only play outside for 2.5 hours on average. The scary part of the report was the fact that Britain’s 11-15 year olds spend about half their waking lives in front of a screen, 7.5 hours a day, equating to 53 hours a week, an increase of 40% in a decade. WOW.

Is it all bad news?

Re-establishing connection with living things has become an important area in the field of conservation. Fuelled by many factors, biophilia seems to be on the rise. In the UK, the houseplant industry (£2.2 billion) is now worth more than the UK music industry (£2 billion). Despite the day to day lack of outdoor play for children, people are visiting nature more too, Natural England found visits at least once a week have increased from 54% in 2010 to 62% in 2018, and in England’s most deprived areas this has gone from 38% to 51%. Natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, such as looking at the view from a mountain top, restoring mental fatigue.

Driven by nationwide and global pressures, on 1st May 2019 the UK government announced a climate emergency. Fingers crossed that the growing (pardon the pun) resurgence of caring for the planet continues! I believe that when I go outside on a walk or camping that due to my innate human biophilia (it sounds like some sort of terrible affliction!!) my body and brain feels better - but it gets even more sciencey than just the feeling of joy.

Woodland path, LHW Weekend 2019.

Woodland path, LHW Weekend 2019.

View from Tryfan, February 2019

View from Tryfan, February 2019

Reason 2: The magic of ‘Green Health’

Being surrounded by green living things is good for you; boosting ‘green health’. In Japan, forest bathing, called “Shinrinyoku” is a short leisurely visit to a forest, regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy and is common practice among its population. Certain conifer trees release monoterpenes, a molecule that may reduce stress and stimulate digestion and immune function. Trees also release phytoncides, organic compounds with antibacterial properties that could also be health boosting for up to a month after a 30 minute trip to the forest. So forest bathing is good, but you probably can’t replicate the benefits sniffing on a ‘Little Tree' Forest Fresh car air freshener.

Woodlands, The Downs, Clifton, Bristol, May 2018 - Pentax K1000, Kodak Colour 250

Reason 3: The mystery of ‘Blue Health’

It’s not only ‘green health’ that has attracted attention, but ‘blue health’ is becoming more in the spotlight. I have found being around or on the water is really relaxing. Scuba diving feels like a turbo fuelled shot of chillaxation and rowing brings me really close to our ‘Blue Mother Nature’. Down in Devon at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (University of Exeter) the BlueHealth project has found that being near aquatic environments is good for your health - but they’re not sure why. There’s so many possibilities. Some research has shown that moving bodies of water give off negative ions which could reduce depression. There really is no conclusive answer - further research into the importance of blue health is needed.

Saunton Sands, Devon, UK, May 2018 - Pentax K1000 Kodak Colour 250

Saunton Sands, Devon, UK, May 2018 - Pentax K1000 Kodak Colour 250

Coastal path, South Malta, October 2018. Pentax K1000, Kodak Colour 250

Why is it important to understand blue and green health?

The science surrounding why is complex, confusing and has many factors to draw out and understand. Especially in the changing planet we live in. Which makes me wonder, with future sea level rise, will living near the coast remain as relaxing as it is now? I’m not sure, but I imagine if you’re house may be washed away by erosion it might not be so relaxing to live there all the time. Do cloudy days have as much benefit as sunny days? Again, the intertwined effects of sunlight must be important.

Answering these questions (and many more) surrounding green and blue health is important. Lack of accessibility to green and blue space remains a problem. Living in Bristol I can quite easily access one of the many city parks, but without a car escaping to National Parks isn’t easy (or cheap!). Building up knowledge surrounding green and blue health will enable urban designers to implement green and blue space effectively, improving physical and psychological health.

Urban green space provides residents with psychological relaxation, stress alleviation, it can stimulate social cohesion, support physical activity, and reduces exposure to air pollutants, noise and excessive heat. There are profound beneficial effects such as improved mental health, reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and death, and improved pregnancy outcomes. Most recently, researchers in Barcelona found that regenerating a a Blue space, a riverside park along the Besòs river, enabled 6,000 adults use the park each day, plus suggest that visitors increased physical activity could prevent up to seven deaths and save 23 million euros in public health spending each year.

Bluebells, Woodland, Royal Tunbridge Wells, May 2019

My final thought…

I’m happy to say I have more than 14 houseplants in my bedroom, I embrace my biophilia. I probably have an addiction to sniffing tree pheromones and ocean air (I don’t think I am alone in this). But I know it makes me feel good, even ‘the science’ says so. Join me, I reckon it’s fairly contagious - its good for you too!

Get outside for some fresh air, it’ll work wonders!!!

Fungi in Devon, February 2018.

Want to learn more, read these:
1. Anxious, depressed, distracted - what if the cure is just outside?

2. The Nature Fix - Florence Williams

3. 11 Scientific Reasons you should be spending more time outside - with all the papers to support their claims

"PAL-entines" trip: A long weekend walking in Snowdonia

It was approaching Valentines day and as I have never ever actually received a valentines card I decided waiting by the front door letter box would probably be a waste of my time. So it didn’t take much persuasion when two friends, Erin and Meg (who I met in the Pyrenees with Love Her Wild UK) proposed we bumbled off to Snowdonia for a long weekend…. aka our PAL-entines retreat!

Lake Ogwen and Tryfan, February 2019

Lake Ogwen and Tryfan, February 2019

We stayed at The Rocks Hostel in Capel Curig. We went off season so I think it was about £20 / night. It was super luxurious. The rooms, beds, kitchen and lounge areas were great and really comfy! I loved the decor and snuggly blankets you were given for in your little hostel dorm bed pod. It was really nice knowing that we were going back to somewhere so cosy after a day on the hills!

Armed with all our winter gear - ice axes, crampons, helmets, rope, boots we were ready for anything February in Snowdonia can through at us! I carried my kit up to Snowdonia in my Snugpak Kitmonster (70L) which had loads of pockets for all my bits and bobs, plus comfy enough to use as a bag pack when lugging all my gear off and on trains. I used my day pack for walking and will write a blog post on what I pack in that soon!

However, despite our preparedness and hopefulness for snow, we were blasted by summer weather and ended up walking in t-shirts. All the gear, no idea. So sadly winter passed without getting out into the snow. 2019/20 BRING IT ON!

First day, Meg and I walked up the Carneddau range to the top of Pen Yr Ole Wen (978m) and the round the ridge to Carnedd Dafydd (1044m). We parked in a lay-by just off to A5, the route started at Til y Llyn Ogwen, a group of cottages at the very Easterly point of Llyn Ogwen. Initially the route is a bit of a slog up a national trust pathway, ending where we then went past the lake, Ffynnon Loer that I dived in last year. The walk was really pretty. Then you get a good fun with a bit of scramble up onto the ridge. The scramble wasn’t too challenging, I’d call it more walking with a few rocky bits to clamber up, but you do need to be able to route pick. Although if you use a keen eye you can spot where crampons have scratched the rock in the past!

Ffynnon Loer - I dived in that lake for Mission High Water, 2018!

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Scramble up Pen Yr Ole Wen

Late afternoon sunshine on the Carnedd Dafydd view of Tryfan and Snowdonia with Meg missioning off downhill whilst I faff about taking pics! Haha…

Late afternoon sunshine on the Carnedd Dafydd view of Tryfan and Snowdonia with Meg missioning off downhill whilst I faff about taking pics! Haha…

The second day was probably the best day I’ve had outdoors in a long, long time… my first ever scramble up Tryfan. What a fantastic day!!! Problem solving, route picking and shimmying over (in places some rather exposed) rocks was brilliant. At the top are two big rocks called Adam and Eve. Traditionally you should jump from Adam to Eve, however, in light of the strong wind I decided it would be a little safer to avoid. Maybe my nerves got the better of me for that one - but next time! The eeeby jeebys were a little too much!! We were so lucky with the sunshine as you can see.

Having a break half way up Tryfan to enjoy the view

Final scramble on Tryfan up to the summit point

Final scramble on Tryfan up to the summit point

Striking a pose on a nice slab en route up Tryfan

Striking a pose on a nice slab en route up Tryfan

Lunch and coffee time at the top by the infamous Adam and Eve rocks!

The view from the top of Tryfan over to Y Garn and Elidr Fawr

Stunning views to the East from Adam and Eve as well! I couldn’t believe how lucky we were with the weather! Tryfan, Feb 2019

Stunning views to the East from Adam and Eve as well! I couldn’t believe how lucky we were with the weather! Tryfan, Feb 2019

BONKERS!

BONKERS!

We finished the trip off on our third and final day with some wandering around Ogwen and a dip in the sea!!! It was freezing but utterly hilarious!!! I feel so alive when I wild swim, probably because I am so cold. It was bleak, grey and I got a lot of weird looks stripping down to my swimming cossie on the beach! I can imagine its glorious in summer. Perhaps not on the day we went in - the weather had turned from blue skies to grey drizzle… Never mind!

The day out on Tryfan made me want to carry on scrambling and exploring new places. I cant wait to go on another adventure with the girls soon! I also want to head back to Snowdonia and go for a mission up Crib Goch - although I might wait a bit till the crowds die down over the summer months. Bring it on!!!!!!

All up at the top of Tryfan in front of Adam and Eve - mid-shelter from the wind!

Summer 2018 Round-up…

Finally, after an outrageously hectic time things have calmed down… ‘slightly’ so I guess it’s time to get back to tapping away on my laptop and letting people know what’s been cracka-lackin!..

May = Mission High Water

WE DID IT! Rachael and I completed our challenge (although not within the 24 hour deadline). We raised over £3000 for charity and became the first women to successfully complete the challenge. WOAH. Find out more about it here. Or watch our video here!

team support.jpg
scotland entry.jpg

June = Back to PhD work and jointly organising a Himalayan research workshop for Bristol Glaciology Centre

The workshop was the epitome of “Global Challenges” - firstly, organising it was itself a ‘global challenge’ with delegates travelling from all over the world - USA and pretty much every country the Himalayas and other mountain regions span! Meeting academics from these countries opened my eyes to what research and in particular what I as a researcher in the UK, can do. It was a good few days and I look forward to collaborating with the network of Himalayan academics in the future.

Workshop poster!

Workshop poster!

The workshop attendees all outside the Planetarium

The workshop attendees all outside the Planetarium

Chotta Shigri glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India

Chotta Shigri glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India

July - PhD work - Extractions, extractions, extractions…

Beans glorious beans growing

Beans glorious beans growing

Root nodules of leguminous plants

Root nodules of leguminous plants

Himalayan alpine plants on glacial forefield - how do they work?

Himalayan alpine plants on glacial forefield - how do they work?

I started growing crops again to continue with my agricultural research, plus did a lot of analysis in the lab!

I have become really interested in understanding the natural plant system on the proglacial landscape and using this knowledge to adapt my crop work back in the UK. The alpine plants pictured are from the Himalayas. I have started thinking about legumes and how their N-fixing capabilities are more similar to species that live in these nutrient limited environments. Exciting stuff!

August - Fieldwork prep

I am off back to India in a few weeks so its time to really get stuck in planning.

Unsurprisingly I don’t have many pics of the vast spreadsheets, travel plans and washing of plastic bottles for samples!!….



September - Back to India! - More about this soon!


WOWWWEEE!!!!

Chandra Taal Lake, Himachal Pradesh, India. Sept 2018


October - Walking around Malta and Gozo with Harry - Post in-coming

Cafe chic Harry

Cafe chic Harry

What a fantastic trip with my best friend!!!

I also tried out my film camera properly for the first time!

Malta farm

Malta farm

Seaside , Malta

Seaside , Malta

WOAH! That takes me up to winter, when the months get dark, time passes slowly and I spent it curled up in a pub by the fire drinking beer, eating cheese for snacks and mash potato and gravy based meals.

Speak to you all soon! - It won’t be so long I promise!!!

New Year, New Challenges!

Hello!

I hope you're having a lovely time over winter festivities - the end of the year has arrived so I thought I would jump on the blogpost band wagon. So here goes... a smorgasbord of my New Years resolutions, goals and past highlights. 

Top of Ben Nevis, 2017

Top of Ben Nevis, 2017

2017 Highlights

WDHOF Scholar! 

WDHOF Scholar! 

  • March: New York - Beneath the Sea and WDHOF meet up following being awarded a WDHOF Diver Medic training grant. What an inspirational week across the pond! I met so many amazing people. If you get the chance to visit - go for it!! 
     
  • June: Scotland - Ben Nevis via CMD arete. Probably the best day out I have ever ever had! The views were just stunning, plus I was with the greatest adventure partner of all time, my sister Beth.  
     
  • July/August: Patagonia, Chile - Despite rain that never stopped and some moments of pure, dark, cold misery I had a great time. I think some of us enjoy the whole personal grim hardship of the outdoors, my friends say I am mad. I was really lucky to make some vvvvvvv good friends here, digging trenches to divert flood water from tents to making naan breads and snapping many sporks (sorry). I'd do it all again. 
     
  • September: Himalayas, India - Corr! This short and sweet trip = as amazing as it was difficult. The mountains are infectious and I can't wait to go back! 
     
  • November: Awarded £12000 Leverhulme Bursary for PhD! Yippee!! 
     
  • December: Bristol - Somehow I can now run for 30 minutes without stopping. Having spent the last two years swimming for fitness, after finally getting my 1km time down to below 15 mins I decided it was time to try something else. I popped my trainers on and started pounding the trails. The joy upon finally hitting 30 minutes was GLORIOUS. My bendy knees have been fine, but to avoid future injury... I probably need a new strap-em-down-zero-jiggle sports bra. 
Camp Steffen, Patagonia Chile

Camp Steffen, Patagonia Chile

Resolution

I can't quite believe where I am standing now. The new year, 2018, marks five years from when I was ill. I have always been fairly 'relentless', focused on work and my goals. Over the last year I have achieved things I once didn't think possible, but in the process have lost touch with many of the people who helped me get here. Finding balance between work, personal goals, friends and family is what I need to improve upon. This year I want to give my friends a great big bucket load of TLC, rather than just a virtual hug over text or the phone. You helped me get here, so now let's enjoy it! So my New Years resolution is to do just that - see my friends and family more. Surprise everyone!! You thought you'd escaped me... 

Ben Nevis CMD arete route 

Ben Nevis CMD arete route 

2018 Goals

Writing these out always makes me a feel a little sick. "Stop talking, just do it" and all that jazz. So here goes... 

PhD Science-ing.... in the GroDome

PhD Science-ing.... in the GroDome

1. Climb more mountains - I am kicking off the year with a trip to the Pyrenees with the Love Her Wild and 360 Expeditions lot. Who knows there may be a big summit trip later on in the year.... 

2. Mission High Water - Rach and I will be doing this bonkers scuba-mountain 24 hour challenge in May. I will get it done 'come hell or high water' and raise a load'a cash monies for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. 

3. Run 10km - I'm going to see if I can do something that five years ago would have made me laugh and spark up another cig at the mere thought of running. Run a whole ten thousand metres non-stop... apparently some people even enjoy these runs. We'll see about that... 

4. Long Distance Trail - Somewhere, somehow I will get one done. Time to get the diary out and get planning. 

5. PhD - I AM STILL DOING SCIENCE. Now rolling into year two the available time for faffing about has dwindled. Heads down writing and lab work ahead. 

6. Drawing - I haven't had the time to draw much this last year - I have dug out my pencils ready for the new year! If I can complete one a month that would be perfecto. This is probably the hardest of all!! 

There you have it - 2018 will have a bit more friend lovin' combined with my usual relentless personal goals and some enforced monthly chill time. Looks like a good recipe. I can't wait to turn the calendar over and begin. If it is anything like the year just passed, I will be extremely fortunate. I wish you all best wishes, good health and a very, very Happy New Year.

Lots of Love, Sarah x

High Willhays, Dartmoor Dec 2017 

High Willhays, Dartmoor Dec 2017 

The family (minus Anna), Dartmoor, High Willhays Dec 2017

The family (minus Anna), Dartmoor, High Willhays Dec 2017

Sandwiches and Blues

Chotta Shigri Base Camp

Chotta Shigri Base Camp

With Monica at Chotta Shigri base camp

With Monica at Chotta Shigri base camp

Wow. I can't quite believe that just over a year ago I moved to Bristol and begun all this. I am very sorry I have been a bit rubbish with staying on top of my blog the last few months. I spent my summer in Patagonia, Chile and then Himalaya, India. Now the madness is over and I have finally got back to some sort of "routine", I have once again got back "ontheline". Let me explain... 

I love sandwiches. However, I love sandwiches at the top of mountains the best. Those sandwiches taste the best. However, after eating the best sandwiches ever, everyday sandwiches seem a bit bland, grey and monotonous. Despite lashings of chilli jam and fairly pungent cheese I just can't recreate the awesome, amazing sandwiches from those moments. 

Himalayas, Marhi.

Himalayas, Marhi.

Finally, I think I have got a good antidote to my own personal 'post-adventure' blues. It's a little thing that I have struggled with for a long time - R n R. Rest and Relaxation. TLC. Self love. Whatever you want to call it, but it consists of a solid period of time spent sat in bubble baths, drinking wine, eating pizza and watching movies (The Martian, Pocohontas and Mean Girls are my current Top 3), chatting with friends, gardening and just enjoying... home. 

This time has been pivotal to understanding and developing an answer to the question... "What Next?"... 

Now, to find my walking boots and get back out there. 
(And to write a proper blog post about India this week)... 

Patagonia, Camp Steffen. Featuring Nicey the horse. 

Patagonia, Camp Steffen. Featuring Nicey the horse. 

Patagonia - Summer 2017 with the PISCES Project

Camp Steffen, winter fieldwork July 2017

Camp Steffen, winter fieldwork July 2017

I've been gone a while (and now fully back on comms)... To stop sounding like a total parrot I did a blogpost for the PISCES group to answer a few questions about my time in the field....

Check it out here!

Gloomy clouds...

Gloomy clouds...

'Nicey' the horse in the snow

'Nicey' the horse in the snow

Doing 'SCIENCE'

Doing 'SCIENCE'

Frankie testing out some great wet weather gear...

Frankie testing out some great wet weather gear...

IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I will write more about it soon!!!!!!!!!

Blog post on Love Her Wild!

Sorry I have been so quiet - I have been away in the depths of Patagonia on fieldwork! It was awesome - they'll be posts about it soon. It also appears that my scheduled posts failed... maybe I need to work a bit on my levels of tec-savvyness... or make sure that my debit card doesn't expire whilst I am away! Haha!

However, whilst I was away it was pretty cool that a post on Love Her Wild went up about my last fieldwork trip to Iceland last year! Check it out here and let me know what you think :) - Thanks to Mike Cooper for the pictures!

Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland - November 2016

Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland - November 2016

My three year mission to the top of Ben Nevis...

My Ben Nevis story started a long time ago. In 2013/14, my mental health had declined enough for me to voluntarily agree I should be admitted into hospital.

“You don’t fall up, you just fall down”

A significant factor in my mental health recovery has been falling in love with nature and the outdoors once again. Initially forced by family and friends to get outside, I now would much rather be exploring the countryside! Having grown up going on walking holidays as a family, my sister Beth and I decided to go on holiday to the Lake District last year. I’d gone back to work properly only 6 months before so this was my first holiday in a while. I was unfit with sore joints and minimal self-confidence. I didn’t really believe much was possible, but Beth assured me that I wouldn’t know unless I tried.

Me, April 2016. 

Me, April 2016. 

We successfully got to the top of the Old Man of Coniston (803m). The views were spectacular! We decided on the way down that we would do some more mountains one day. I also internally decided that if I was going to do more mountains, I should get a lot fitter. I didn’t quite fancy huffing and puffing all the way up again.

Fast forward to May 2017. Beth and I are driving up to the West Highlands, I am the happiest I have ever been and am 6 stone lighter. We decided that should we be lucky enough with the weather we would try to climb Ben Nevis.

Affectionately known as ‘The Ben’, it stands at 1345m above sea level in the Grampian Mountains, West Highlands, Scotland. It’s fame for being the highest mountain in the U.K attracts 125,000 people to the summit and a further 100,000 people partial ascents each year. With the vast majority heading up on the mountain track that works out at 4327 people / week, 618 people / day. Beth and I decided that we wouldn’t trundle up the Ben with the masses and would instead go via Càrn Mòr Dearg (CMD) (1221m) over the CMD Arête and then up to the Ben.

Off we go up Carn Mor Dearg with the beautiful sights of the Ben cliff face!

Off we go up Carn Mor Dearg with the beautiful sights of the Ben cliff face!

On the Thursday of our holiday up in Scotland, we were blessed with clear skies and sunshine. We followed the route on walkhighlands.co.uk. The blurb describes it as “a truly spectacular route incorporating two Munros. It will live long in the memory and does true justice to the mountain.” We started with what felt like a never ending slog up the CMD slope and then had a glorious walk and scramble round the ridge and across the arête. The route really allows you to take in the enormity of the northern cliff faces of the Ben. The views the entire day were absolutely spectacular – we could even see to the Isle of Skye!

Beth looking over to the arete and up the Ben! Stunning!

Beth looking over to the arete and up the Ben! Stunning!

At the top of Ben Nevis, 1345m.

At the top of Ben Nevis, 1345m.

Beth and I at the summit

Beth and I at the summit

This route would have been unimaginable to complete a year ago. The route is over 20km and after getting to the top of the Ben it is a long way back. Despite this, it was one of the greatest days walking I have had in my entire life. I was elated at the summit of Ben Nevis – but I was emotional upon arriving back to the car. This mountain had been at the back of my mind on every walk, swim and (almost) every meal for a year. I did it with the greatest walking buddy in the world, my sister Beth.

As for falling down, I now have strategies to protect both my knees and thoughts from slipping. To save my knees I use two poles when walking downhill. To look after my mind I draw and go into the outdoors. 

So there we go. To many more mountains. Cheers!

Sarah

P.S. I am also very sorry to all those on the Ben mountain track on May 25th 2017 for I sang multiple Disney songs at the top of my voice on descent round Lochan Meall an t’Suidhe. I was overjoyed to be walking on soft boggy grass compared to knee compacting gravel. I am sure you could tell…

Glimpse of summer

Up on Meldon Hill, May 2017

Up on Meldon Hill, May 2017

At last! The past month has seen a bit of frost here and there. The plants took their time, but at last all the beautiful fresh green leaves are out! It truly felt like a glimpse of summer, the winter seems to be moving away. I am certain there's so much more lovely green to appear, however, I thought Dartmoor looked glorious at the weekend already!

Hello! Lambs across the river near Chagford, May 2017

Hello! Lambs across the river near Chagford, May 2017

We went on walks up on the moors, but also down in the woods. I really believe this time of year is my favourite. All of the lambs were out and about. We were also visited by the Dartmoor ponies that live on Chagford Common and Meldon Hill, with six small foals added to the herd so far, it was so great to see them doing well.

Woodland flowers - the last of the bluebells! Chagford, May 2017

Woodland flowers - the last of the bluebells! Chagford, May 2017

We were lucky on one of our walks to spot the last of the bluebells in the woods. My Mum was also very helpful pointing out lots of woodland plants that I didn't know. We even were lucky enough to spot a kingfisher! 

If you've got a chance, make the most of the good weather we have at the moment - I have heard on the grape vine it's going to go a bit wet and miserable again soon. Get Outside!

Caomihe (Keeva) on Meldon Hill! May 2017

Caomihe (Keeva) on Meldon Hill! May 2017

Opposites attract - 5 pieces of science-creativity that inspired me

A few weeks ago I attended the Bristol March for Science. Since then I have been thinking about science communication.

Science and art. Two areas that many people consider complete opposites. Upon closer inspection they feed into one another, offering unique ideas, opportunities and collaborations. 

Through photographing the natural world - like this magma on Mt Etna, Italy I also perform my own science-art! - Photo taken August 2015.

Through photographing the natural world - like this magma on Mt Etna, Italy I also perform my own science-art! - Photo taken August 2015.

Now more than ever communication is key. Driven by the parallel difficulties that the two communities face in the wake of our global political and economic situation they must work together. In a world dominated by instantaneous social media, the method by which the majority communicate, we must adapt the way in which we communicate science. We cannot expect to generate change through performing a 20 minute power point presentation to a half full scientific conference room. I also feel we cannot rely on the media to convey the results of a scientific paper. Through working together, attracting people outside of the everyday scientific community we will be able to generate positive change. 

With this all in mind and my passions for illustration and photography in my spare time, I thought I would put together a few of the pieces of creative works that I have found most inspirational or thought provoking for my latest blog post... Here goes!

1. BBC Natural History Unit Films

My firm favourite, the BBC NHU has produced many timeless classics that I can watch again and again. Sir David Attenborough's voice is reassuring and he has helped inspire multiple generations of wildlife enthusiasts - even myself! The more recent Planet Earth II was mind bogglingly beautiful, with a supporting score from Hans Zimmer it really is a must watch. I have also probably watched the Blue Planet series multiple times and am really looking forward to the follow up released later on this year! 

2. John Isaacs - I cannot help the way that I feel (2003)

John Isaacs - I cannot help the way that I feel (2003)

John Isaacs - I cannot help the way that I feel (2003)

I saw this piece when exploring the Wellcome Trust 'Medicine Now' collection. Sculpted from polystyrene and painted wax this amorphous terrifying sculpture is one of the most moving pieces I have seen. British artist John Isaacs take on the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation puts forward this blob, a representation of how we as a society and as individuals are being engulfed by this fat-disease. I found it so scary - I felt like that blob person at the time. After seeing that piece, it actually pushed me towards having a much healthier lifestyle. Thankfully, I no longer feel like this every morning when I wake up!

 

3. Ernst Haeckel - Kunstformen der Natur (Art forms in Nature) (1904)

This book of lithographic and halftone prints by German biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel are amazing. He beautifully depicts the symmetric patterns shown in the natural world. The pieces involving different radiolarians, requiring the use of some of the first basic microscopes are my favourites. Haeckel also popularised Charles Darwin's work in Germany and coined many biological terms that we use today - including 'anthropology' and 'stem cell'. 

 

 

 

 

4. Damien Hirst - The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) (see below)

Originally a shocking piece created a few years after I was born, by 2012 it was an $8 million box of rotting formaldehyde tiger shark. It is one of the pieces central to Hirst's stratospheric launch into the public eye. It pushed boundaries, but it also pushed buttons and remains controversial today. Personally, I found the stillness of the shark bizarre. Suspended in time with its mouth wide open it was haunting. Later I discovered that he had to source a replacement tiger shark because the old one had started to rot. They caught one off the coast of Australia. I'm not sure whether I agree with the replacement, the catching and killing of a new shark is sad. As much as I dislike it, I am sure it has also helped increase awareness surrounding shark conservation! Even if that is not at all what this weird and wonderful piece is about at all. I find it fascinating yet also repulsive. Like an awful television show I can't stop watching I am drawn back to it time and time again. 

 

5. Ludovico Einaudi - Elegy for the Arctic (2016)

A beautiful video combining music, art and science for a good cause, plus my favourite pianist performing on a grand piano floating on a grand piano. This is an original piece written by Einaudi composed for the Greenpeace drive to protect the Arctic. What is amazing is that during the short performance you see calving and hear the noises the glacier makes as it crumbles behind him. It is a powerful, moving piece of music. I have seen Einaudi twice and both times I felt so moved I cried! 

Ludovico Einaudi for Greenpeace 'Elegy for the Arctic' (2016)

Wandering on the Gower!

View from campsite to Three Cliffs Bay

Easter Bank Holidays notoriously have fairly terrible weather. However we were pretty lucky this year with sunshine and a few clouds! I decided to go and explore somewhere I had never been before so headed to the Gower Peninsula, Wales. Having now walked almost the entire perimeter coast path and the Gower Way down through the middle I can honestly say I dont know why it has taken me so long to get there! What a stunning place! 

I camped at the Three Cliffs campsite - which was pretty luxurious! The toilets and showers had underfloor heating! Whaaaat!? Everyone was really welcoming and friendly - I recommend it as a place to stay.

Mermaids purse! Empty dogfish egg case

Mermaids purse! Empty dogfish egg case

Spring time is an awesome time of year to be heading out on the coast paths. The spring gorse flowers were out with the sunshine and the sea it looks stunning.

The Easter babies - of both the land and sea could be spotted with a keen eye! The lambs were out - and so were the birds - I even spotted a buzzard, a sparrowhawk and a heron. I kept my eyes peeled for seals but I wasn't fortunate enough to spot one. Perhaps I need to invest in some good binoculars!

The Great British Egg Case Hunt is still going on by the Sharks Trust. Take part in some citizen science and help with the monitoring of our UK coastline. It is super interesting! 

I look forward to going back sometime soon! 

 

 

A trip Beneath the Sea!

WDHOF - pin and badge!

WDHOF - pin and badge!

Wow! What a week!

Earlier on this year I received some awesome news... I was being awarded the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) Diver Medic Training Grant sponsored by Chantelle Taylor-Newman of The Diver Medic / Code Blue Education. I was invited to the Beneath the Sea expo just outside New York City in Seacaucus. This was an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down! 

WDHOF Certificate, received at awards brunch - March 2017.

WDHOF Certificate, received at awards brunch - March 2017.

WDHOF members span the forefront of all aspects of diving; science, exploration, education, military diving, medical research and training, photography, filmmaking, art, marine advocacy and conservation. I was welcomed into the WDHOF group with open arms and had the opportunity to chat to many about their love for diving.

As a 2017 award winner, I received associate membership to WDHOF. I look forward to learning as much as I can from such an inspirational group of women. I hope we meet again soon!

I was really impressed by the efforts made by the diving community to engage and inspire young people. The Marine Careers Day held for high school and early college students would be a fantastic thing to organise here in the UK.

Dr Jeff Bozanic - Mastering Rebreathers 2nd Edition - Great to speak to him about scientific diving in Antarctica! 

Dr Jeff Bozanic - Mastering Rebreathers 2nd Edition - Great to speak to him about scientific diving in Antarctica! 

Whilst at the Beneath the Sea conference I attended seminars by Emory Kristoff, Laurent Ballesta, Renee Power, Nancy McGee, Dr. Jeff Bozanic, CDR Joseph Dituri and Andrea Zaferes. Highlights for me included a seminar by Dr. Jeff Bozanic on rebreather testing in Antarctica. I was extremely fortunate to chat with him about ocean biogeochemistry, subglacial research and rebreather use in polar environments afterwards. It was also brilliant to finally hear Renee Power, of Women Underwater (co-authored with Jill Heinerth) speak about 'Women in Diving'. 

Sat in the film festival with the glitzy chandeliers! 

Sat in the film festival with the glitzy chandeliers! 

The Saturday night Film Festival showcase was mind boggling – the stills from Laurent Ballesta (Diver of the Year for Arts) from his Gombessa III trip to Antarctica were a personal highlight. The beautiful images he took really inspired me to get better with my own camera. I look forward to seeing the results of his next project with sharks! 

Gombessa III – Expedition Antarctica! © Laurent Ballesta / Gombessa III

Gombessa III – Expedition Antarctica!
© Laurent Ballesta / Gombessa III

I was lucky to be able to sandwich the expo with a few days either side exploring NYC. The city was amazing - expect another post about it all soon! It was a busy trip and I have come back to Bristol with lots of new ideas. I’m now looking forward to getting going with my work here asap. Most importantly, I can’t wait to go diving! 

A big thankyou to WDHOF and Beneath the Sea for being so welcoming. Thankyou also to Sandy Shaw, part of The Diver Medic team for showing me around and helping make my trip so fun - I had an awesome time! 

“I change timezones more than I change my underwear. You just gotta suck it up and get on with it.” – Dr. Jeff Bozanic

I guess I better get a move on then! 

New York City - Staten Island Ferry trip - March 2017

New York City - Staten Island Ferry trip - March 2017

International Women's Day 2017

Watering soybeans in the GroDome - Thanks Jon for the pic!

Watering soybeans in the GroDome - Thanks Jon for the pic!

I just realised I hadn’t posted in a while! I have been busy moving house and setting up my new “HQ” in the very spacious Bristol Barbie Dream House (as named by Harriet and I). My research is going well, we have harvested our last experiment and I have begun planting some soybean trials! 

Last week on 8th March 2017 it was International Women’s Day. I have personally experienced sexism not only within the different industries I have worked in, but also in everyday life.

I understand that my own experience is incomparable to the discrimination some women face around the world. Through advocating women’s rights in science, outdoor adventure and scuba diving in the UK, I hope to put forward my ideas and beliefs to others. I don’t believe women are better than men, but that we should all be seen as equal – it should just be the “best person” for the job, regardless of gender.

“The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes”
— Oxford Dictionary
Sicilian catwalk! August 2015

Sicilian catwalk! August 2015

I have heard many murmurs about how it is unfair that women have so many positive groups helping them achieve their dreams. However, I don’t think we would need them if these activities were not gender biased. They are essential. They do not just enable today’s pioneering women, but they also assist others in taking part and inspire the younger generation.

Personally, International Women’s Day is a celebration of the positive changes that have occurred so far. However, it also acts as a reminder that we must continue to promote women’s rights to achieve equality.

My parents brought me up to believe that I could do anything (thanks Mum and Dad). This belief wasn’t born out of nowhere. I was shown inspirational women, all feminists in their own way, from an early age. These role models have helped shape who I have become today. I decided to compile a list of the top five women who have inspired me the most whilst growing up.

Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter

1.     Beatrix Potter (28th July 1866 - 22nd December 1943) 

Beatrix Potter wrote ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ in 1902. Her children’s books and the animal creatures they contain were my favourite whilst growing up. Jemima Puddleduck was a firm favourite! However, she was also a scientific illustrator. Prior to the children’s books she had developed her own theory on how fungi spores reproduced. She wrote a paper ‘On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae’. Sadly, at the time women could not attend Linnean Society meetings to present their work. It received little attention and her paper has since been lost. Thankfully, many of her beautiful illustrations and diagrams of funghi have been preserved. On my last trip up to the Lake District last year my sister and I were fortunate to explore a whole gallery of them – they were incredible! She sadly died on 22nd December 1943, however she left her fifteen farms and 4000 acres of Lake District countryside to the National Trust. This gift has help preserve and protect this beautiful area to this day. When you next go on a walk up there – remember that your wanderings are possible because of this amazing person!

Watercolour - lepiota friesii, Beatrix Potter

Watercolour - lepiota friesii, Beatrix Potter

Dame Ellen MacArthur - yachtswoman

Dame Ellen MacArthur - yachtswoman

2.     Dame Ellen MacArthur (8th July 1976)

A successful solo long-distance yachtswoman. When I was 14 I watched her break the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe on 7th February 2005. Her dedication and resilience were unlike anything I had seen before! Today she focuses her efforts on the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, a charity enabling young people aged between 8 and 24 to go sailing to help them regain their confidence following cancer, leukaemia and other serious illnesses. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is also working towards a circular economy through a series of initiatives inspired by her sailing.

3.     Rosalind Franklin (25th July, 1920 – 16th April, 1958)

Was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer. I first came across her story when I was 17 years old, during my sixth A level biology course. Her work massively contributed to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal and graphite. During her time in the 1950s at King’s College, London working on DNA, she clashed with researcher Maurice Wilkins – who had assumed she was his assistant, not his equal. Their relationship got worse until Wilkins shared Franklin’s research with James Watson and Francis Crick, their competitors at Cambridge University. Watson, Crick and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. Rosalind Franklin continued work on viruses after the furore, however she died in 1958, aged 37. She has since been recognised for her work by academia. I found the struggle she went through compelling – I also found DNA fascinating!

Dr Sylvia Earle 

Dr Sylvia Earle 

4.     Dr Sylvia Earle (30th August, 1935)

I think I have watched the documentary ‘Mission Blue’ at least ten times now! Dr Sylvia Earle is an American marine biologist, diver, explorer, author and lecturer. She was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 1998 she became a National Geographic explorer-in-residence and was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet. The scuba diving and submersible exploration that Sylvia has been a part of is truly inspirational. However, her personality and attitude over the oceans demise was really what struck me. Mission Blue, is now aiming to set up more ‘hope spots’ around the world – protecting more of the ocean than we do today.

The Tingey Tribe - Choose love

The Tingey Tribe - Choose love

5.     Sally Tingey (23rd February, 1962)

My Mum has taught me a lot about what it means to be a strong person. As a teacher and lecturer she has had a positive impact on so many people’s lives. She has helped me through multiple difficult times and together with the rest of my family it always is fine in the end. My Mum is an avid supporter of all my science work – she even proof-reads essays and bits of writing for me (total grammar boff). Together with my Dad they have helped show me what amazing things can be done with a bit of hard work. Thanks Mum, and Happy Mothers Day in just over a week!

Now for the next adventure – I am off to New York next week!
Watch this space!

February Walks!

I have been lucky enough to get outside quite a bit this last month! Even despite the fairly awful weather! I have been on some woodland adventures surrounding Bristol, a trip to Burrington Coombe in the Mendips, many weekends down in Dartmoor bagging more tors; including High Willhays and Yes Tor, and even up to the Brecon Beacons. 

At the top of Pen Y Fan, Feb 2017

At the top of Pen Y Fan, Feb 2017

Whilst in Brecon with some fellow Geography PhD students we went up Corn du and Pen y Fan. We then did a rather awesome circular walk heading off North from Pen Y Fan and then back round the base of the mountains to the National Trust car park. It was pretty murky at the summit. However, as it cleared on our descent we caught a glimpse of the views. I look forward to going back when the weather is better! I have been on lots of walks with so many different people - I'm looking forward to next month and some more adventures! 

FETCH! Galloping through the woods, Dartmoor - Feb 2017

FETCH! Galloping through the woods, Dartmoor - Feb 2017

Bellevor Tor, Dartmoor - Feb 2017

Bellevor Tor, Dartmoor - Feb 2017

Adventures, diving and a trip to the DDRC Diving on the Edge conference

I have been pretty lucky the last few weeks and been both up hills and back underwater! 

Just the dog and I, High Willhays, Dartmoor February 2017

Just the dog and I, High Willhays, Dartmoor February 2017

It is a fantastic time to experience the outdoors - nature is beginning it's transition from winter to spring. I can't wait for everything to begin to bloom and turn green again! I saw some snowdrops on my way into University this morning - yippee! Dartmoor is looking mysterious and wild, last time I was down snow and ice covered the highest points. 

Getting back in diving after a winter break was awesome. I went to my old place of work, Vobster Quay. It was a great opportunity to dive with my good friend Josh, enabling us to test all our kit for all the diving ahead this year! I caught up with old friends in the UK dive scene. It was a little bit nippy - I will certainly be putting extra thermals on next time - I'll explain more in a bit. Josh and I plan to make a few trips around the South coast - I'm now really looking forward to the next season of diving. I desperately want to go to Lundy Island - fingers crossed for some good weather this year! 

Diving in Vobster Quay, photo taken by Joshua Yates. February 2017

Diving in Vobster Quay, photo taken by Joshua Yates. February 2017

At the beginning of February I went to the DDRC Diving on the Edge - Scientific Diving conference. With talks by Dr Martin Sayer from the National Facility for Scientific Diving, Mark Powell (TDI) on his Britannic diving expedition, DDRC's very own Dr Christine Penny and representatives from the Sharks Trust, Ghost Fishing and the Marine Conservation Society it was an interesting day. One of the most thought provoking talks for all the divers was Gavin Anthony's talk on thermal protection. 

I didn't know that diving wetsuits should be labelled with a HSE thermal insulation code from A to D, more to less thermal protection respectively. The 'thickness' of the suit has been up until now how I have determined the thermal protection (warmth) provided. However, in some cases a 5mm could be warmer than a 7mm depending on the material used - it is this A-D rating we should be looking at. Wetsuits not manufactured specifically for diving use do not require this rating to even be determined or printed on the label. Having learnt about this I know I will check in the future! 

What was also interesting is that neither drysuits or undersuits require specific HSE thermal protection ratings. Both are all made from different materials by different manufacturers. Aside from word of mouth, comparison's are difficult to draw without a standard assessment method. On top of this, there are still significant questions surrounding the associated benefits and risks with battery powered heating systems. The link between DCI and thermal status is known, despite conflicting advice (Pollock 2015). The risk of DCI is higher in cold water for a variety of reasons, not just thermal regulation - however, it may play a significant role (Toner and Ball 2004, Pendergast et al. 2015) . I need to work on my own thermal protection! With more divers conducting deeper, longer technical dives in cold water, I agree; further investigation into the 'best practice' of thermal regulation is required. 

Labs are going well, new rounds of experiments and investigations are beginning. The plants are growing and there's lots of exciting developments on the horizon. Now for a weekend of adventures!

View from Yes Tor, Dartmoor - February 2017

View from Yes Tor, Dartmoor - February 2017

Outside winter walking adventures!

Leigh Woods, Bristol UK January 2017

Leigh Woods, Bristol UK January 2017

Science is going well - the plants have grown and I am expecting to be conducting some further biogeochemical laboratory analysis soon. It is another great excuse to spend some more time up in the GroDome - a place I absolutely love. I am also trying to sit down and get a load of writing up done... which is proving the trickier part of it all! 

Despite the busy everyday work schedule, I am still thankfully managing to get out into the outdoors! I have had some lovely walks in the countryside, Leigh Woods on the outskirts of Bristol was a recent highlight. We even saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)!

 

I have also been down to Dartmoor and ticked off a few more tors; the highest summit High Willhays (621m), Yes Tor (619m) and a couple of others. It was wintery and brisk but the sun was out - absolutely beautiful. I have been on a fair few exciting adventures recently and have a load of blog posts to start preparing and posting up. Watch this space! :)

High Willhays view to Yes Tor, Dartmoor, Devon UK. February 2017

High Willhays view to Yes Tor, Dartmoor, Devon UK. February 2017

Meldon Hill Tor, Dartmoor, Devon UK. January 2017

Meldon Hill Tor, Dartmoor, Devon UK. January 2017

A Plastic Ocean - Documentary Premiere

Plastic. It is everywhere; from take away food containers, disposable lighters, water bottles, carrier bags, pens, plastic pill pots, shampoo containers and drinking straws. It is a fantastically durable cheap material. However, it is plastic's durability that is it's downfall. 

Sea birds are shockingly affected by plastic. Hurghada, Egypt 2015.

Sea birds are shockingly affected by plastic. Hurghada, Egypt 2015.

There is a general view that plastic breaks down. It doesn't, instead it 'breaks up'. Plastics degrade into smaller and smaller pieces until they become microplastics (less than 5mm long). Global demands for plastic products has increased. However, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, 40% end up in landfill and shockingly, at least 33% in fragile ecosystems like the world's oceans (New Plastics Economy Report, January 2016). The impacts and future prospects are devastating.

If we continue at current rates, by 2050 in our world's oceans, plastic will at least be equal to, if not outnumber fish populations.
(New Plastics Economy Report, January 2016)

Last night my friend Harriet and I went to Bristol Aquarium to the premiere of 'A Plastic Ocean'. We were able to walk around the aquarium after hours which was pretty cool - it was so quiet with just 300 people, a real luxury! However, the screening of the documentary film followed by the Q and A session with the producer, Jo Ruxton was the highlight. 

I believe the film itself really shows the problem of plastic we face globally. Although I knew of the problem, I wasn't truly aware of the impacts. I strongly recommend giving the documentary a watch. There is some beautiful but also heart breaking footage. If you thought the baby turtle deaths due to human activity in the BBC's Planet Earth 2 Cities episode was tear jerking, you might need a box of tissues for this! Hopefully the shocking reality shown in the film will spark a #AWaveofChange

As for taking action here in Bristol and the UK, there is a very active community, City to Sea who were involved with organising the premiere. After watching the film, I have been inspired to get involved in the movement, particularly in regards to lowering my single-use plastic consumption. There is now a plastic-free challenge on the horizon! I am also going to go help Clean up Bristol Harbour - come too! The more hands the better! 

Find out more:

A Plastic Ocean: http://www.plasticoceans.org/film/ 
City to Sea: http://www.citytosea.org.uk/ 
Clean up Bristol Harbour: http://cleanupbristolharbour.weebly.com/ 
 

 

Happy New Year!

Wow! What a year 2016 was. I can't quite believe how fast it went or how much changed. 

This time last year I was working as a Science Technician at a secondary school in the depths of Wiltshire. One memorable day was when I was running a class practical session on genetic engineering. The students transform E.coli DNA, resulting in some colonies (hopefully) fluorescing under UV light. The session has a few periods of down-time enabling me to chat with the class. We got onto the topic of dream science careers. I will never forget when one student asked "Miss Tingey, is this your dream science career?" 

I thought for a moment about my answer, with the eyes of twenty 16 year olds on me and responded "as much as I love to remind you to put your safety specs on to avoid potential blindness every 15 minutes" (she quickly put them back on) "and discussing genetically modifying humans to create an evil army of minions, I am really interested in the environment and would love to go back to research one day." The student mulled this over and then replied "Well you should do that then Miss Tingey. One more question - could I genetically modify a dolphin to make it really, really small? So, I create a sort of micro-dolphin, that I could keep as a pet in a pond?" 

Windy Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland Nov 2016

Windy Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland Nov 2016

That night I thought a lot about the student's first question to me and decided that I did want to go back to research, only if the project and the time was right. Why not just try? I never would have thought by the end of 2016 I would be a glaciology postgraduate researcher at the University of Bristol!

Inside the GroDome, Life Sciences, University of Bristol. October 2016

Inside the GroDome, Life Sciences, University of Bristol. October 2016

In the summer I moved from the countryside to central Bristol and began research. It was slightly terrifying but it has turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. One of the biggest highlights of the year was leading an expedition to Iceland, sampling glacial flour and traveling to remote glaciers such as Lambatungnajokull. We were blessed with good weather and got all the samples we needed. It was a fantastic expedition, I would love to go back one day. Aside from fieldwork, conducting research every day here in the GroDome is great. Some people may find watching plants grow boring - I think it is awesome! 

With hard work (and a little bit of luck), who knows what adventures I will be writing about in a years time. What I do know for sure is that I owe my friends and family a huge big thankyou, without your support I wouldn't be in such a fortunate position. 

Finally to answer that student's second question about creating a GM micro-dolphin, if that's what you really want to do, I guess anything is possible if you try. 

Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland. November 2016

Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland. November 2016

Family Christmas - Help Refugees UK - Choose Love. December 2016

Family Christmas - Help Refugees UK - Choose Love. December 2016