How on earth do you begin to pack for two months of fieldwork in a new country, including three weeks of camping and a whole bunch of scientific equipment (much of which I’ve never used before), whilst still being able to lug it all on public transport alone? A lot of rationalisation, multi-use items and clever packing.
Fortunately, I’ve had a fair bit of experience of living out of a bag. For almost two years my life fit into a duffel and a day sack (rolling clothes into sausages is key!). Though, I’d rather not relive the day stumbling around the streets of Querétaro, Mexico looking in vain for a taxi in the closed off roads (unbeknownst to us there was a marathon that day), my legs threatening to buckle beneath me with the weight of my bags. So, I’ve channelled my inner traveller to pack light and clever. Well, almost. 50-odd kilos isn't the lightest I've ever travelled...
It's been a full couple of months getting started with the PhD: induction training, travelling up and down to Aberdeen a couple of times, getting my head around what data I want to collect, and more importantly, how best to collect it. And online shopping. So much shopping for kit and scientific equipment. It’s amazing how the hours just disappear when you’re searching for a perfectly sized fishing pole to adapt for catching birds, even if it is just a back-up piece of kit. Huge thanks to Rab Equipment for saving my life from many more hours of browsing by providing me with an insulated layer, raincoat, super toasty sleeping bag and slippers to keep me snug and dry by the sea.
But now the time has come. My bags are zipped shut, my Kindle is crammed with books and hand luggage is full of snacks for the long journey south. And with that comes a brain-shift. For months it’s been focussed on organisation: have I got x, y, z? Are all of my approvals in place? Don’t forget this or that. But stepping on the train platform means everything essential is in place, so I can stop thinking practical and embrace the excitement of a new scientific adventure! It’s a long journey from 56 degrees north to 51 degrees south – 7 hours on the train to family in England for a brief stop before a further 2 hours drive to the airport (thanks Dad for the lift!) and then 18 hours (ish) on a plane before landing in the southern hemisphere.
Falklands here I come!