Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bye Bye Bailey

To misquote the Bay City Rollers:

Bye bye Bailey, Bailey goodbye
Bailey, Bailey bye bye)
Bye bye
Bailey, don't make me cry
Bailey, Bailey bye bye)

After a delightful holiday (which definitely included watching "Love Actually", from which I know the song tweaked above), Bailey is headed back to Paris to resume her au pair duties. 

I meanwhile, will be locking myself in my room to prepare a massive report due to my supervisor on 12 January. 

Here we go...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in London!

I did not spend Christmas Day in London, but I have been frolicking about the city with mates attempting to soak in all the delights the capital has to offer during the holidays.

If nothing else, walking about whilst it's dark (let's be honest, you only have to wait till about 3...) is fairly magical with all of the amazing lights. 
Add friends old and new from all around the world, the delights of outdoor markets with hot cider and churros, and a blissful ability to ignore all the work you should probably be doing, and you have one delightful holiday season.

Cat Lady Christmas

Happy Christmas from Becca!

I'm in Norwich with my cousin Effy and undergrad roommate Bailey. We are catsitting for the family I used to nanny for, as they're off with grandparents for the holidays.

Effy moved to London just before Thanksgiving to be Amnesty International's Head of Digital Engagement. Bailey is currently au pairing in Paris. We three "orphans" have dubbed this Cat Lady Christmas and are happily frolicking and lounging about Norwich, watching way too much telly, consuming an amazing quantity of Chinese takeaway, and generally being absurd.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Beyond 2015

Cherish Watton, a colleague from Norfolk, and I have just published a thought piece on our work with high school students in the county on environmental education and capacity-building. We submitted the piece to Beyond 2015, an initiative of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Check out our piece at Explore other submissions to Beyond 2015 and learn more about the ACU's work with development and university engagement:

And, a Ramble on the subject:

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I have a Bailey!

My roommate from undergrad happens to be au pairing in Paris this year...and look! She happened to appear in my room!

Bailey and I will be joining cousin Elizabeth in Norwich for Christmas. We are catsitting for the family I nannied for, as they're headed to see relatives. We're calling it "Cat Lady Christmas".

As you can see, Bailey is excessively happy to see me. ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bubba

It's just hit midnight in the United Kingdom.

Ladies and is an auspicious day.

The anniversary of the birth of one Gregory Allan Farnum, better known to me as Bubba.

Happy Birthday to my favourite big brother! (And I'm not only saying that because you're my only big brother...teehee.)

Hope Gregory and everyone else have a fabulous seventeenth of December!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Panto

So there's this thing in Britain come Christmastime. The "panto", or pantomime. These are absurdly silly plays/musicals based on very classic tales with elements of audience participation. The actors purposefully and explicitly talk to the audience, encouraging them to boo and cheer and yadda yadda. Oftentimes, the action will stop for the actors to call out greetings to various audience members. Candy will get thrown at the kids. Etc.

Farce is the agenda of the day. For the adults, sexual innuendo and satirical political commentary abound. For the young'uns...we find any excuse possible to sing "Let It Go" or whatever the trending thing of the day is.

Cue "Aladdin" (, with an absurd villain's "Mwahahahahahahahaha", a fabulous (by which I mean beyond stereotypically flaming) genie, a drag queen playing Aladdin's widowed mum, and "Defying Gravity" instead of "A Whole New World".

We laughed. We cried. We rolled our eyes.

My favourite part was definitely the evil vizier and Aladdin in a rendition of "We Can Do It" from "The Producers" before going lamp hunting.

These pantos are legitimately a massive part of Christmas in this country. They're an economy in and of themselves.

There are moments when this little island is still a complete and total mystery to me. And I love it.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I am spending Thursday and Friday in meeting-free bliss, happily hibernating post-Tour and pre-Holiday Flurry.

I really think we should all just hibernate for the next few months. Who's with me?

Monday, December 8, 2014

And off they fly!


That was quite the five days. 

I have just put most of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus into Heathrow, heading back to Jerusalem. A few have family in the country, so I escorted a couple to a bus toward Bath (a UK city I've yet to see myself!). 

They were fantastic. They were amazing. They made me cry. They made me laugh. 

We frolicked about London, with selfies at every Christmas tree we could find as well as Westminster, the Horse Guards, and the like. They squealed over squirrels, grass, and how cold it was. They oohed and aahed at the British Museum. 

They sang live on BBC Newsnight. They recorded backup vocals for Duran Duran (no, seriously). They gave concerts at the Aldwych West End Theatre and in Oxford. they are off. And I'm riding the Tube back to central London without getting 25 teenagers on and off it all together. I'm not really quite sure what to do with myself. ;)

Safe flight, my dears! Well done taking London by storm. 

(Photos to follow once the good ones from our actual photographers are processed.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus takes London

They're coming; they're really coming!

100 kosher chocolate chip cookies in hand, I am off to Heathrow to collect the Israeli and Palestinian singers of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. 

It's been a wild delays and mistaken coach pickup times and volunteer dropouts. But all is well, and the Chorus is flying toward this lovely island now. 

So incredibly excited!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Celebrations

Britain doesn't really do Thanksgiving. Though, rather absurdly, it does now do Black Friday. (Yes, really. Yes, I know.)

Thursday saw me happily ensconced in Norwich, lecturing on the hydro cycle. Both the workshop seminar with the MSc students and the public lecture-turned-three-hour-conversation went very well. 
And then...I got to go stay with Maestro. The family I nannied for when I lived in Norwich still very happily take me in. Several of our mutual American friends came over and we served the full works. (Okay. My pronoun use is rather unjust here. They served the works. I ate and amused the manlet.)

I'm now heading home from the second of my Thanksgiving celebrations, this one significantly more dramatic: 100 Marshall Scholars and a potluck. Always a wonderful evening. Always totally exhausting for those few of us who have to set and clean up. But worth it!

This year, we added some delightful substance - Saturday afternoon, a diverse group of current and alumni Marshall Scholars shared some of their research. It was a great chance for interesting topics and learning, and also gave the new Scholars a chance to hear about the kinds of initiatives they can get involved with in Britain and the wide range of stuff going on in our community. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Edinburgh Graduation

The University of East Anglia holds most of their Congregation (graduation) ceremonies the July following your programme. With a dissertation handed in at the end of August, this makes it nearly a year before receiving your degree. Summer is certainly better weather, and perhaps it makes it slightly easier/more sensible for family to come. But the ceremonies are held on a Mayhap not.
In any case, I didn't make it to UEA's Congregation. Most of my mates weren't coming back for it, and I had been in Norwich just a few weeks prior for a conference. 
The University of Edinburgh, however, holds Graduation in November, just a few weeks after final marks are announced. Still on a weekday (seriously, who graduates on a Tuesday?), but one that it was easy for me to pop up for. So there I was, happily back in Scotland's capital with many of my coursemates. Hugs and squeals and too many selfies all around. 
Fun fact - an alum of the uni took the university's insignia on some nice felt into space with them. The fabric is now sewn back in to the Chancellor's graduation cap, which he taps on our heads as we walk across the stage. degree was conferred by a "hybrid medieval space bonnet", as Sir Timothy puts it. Grand fun.

I was back in London for a quick stopover and catch-up dinner with Effy - she's had a proper three days of work in the London office now! And now I'm on my way to Norwich for some lectures on the hydro cycle and some Thanksgiving celebrations with Maestro and family. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

La Boheme

I am, as a rule, much more interested in Broadway musicals than opera, straight plays, dance, orchestra, etc.

That being said...a show is a show is a show! And how delightful they are. 

One of the new Marshalls has never been to the opera or the ballet and is trying to check those off his bucket list. 

So I collected another Marshall and his girlfriend - who just happens to be an opera stage manager. The two of them shared insightful operatic and musical history over a delightful dinner that happily included roasting passion fruit marshmallows for s'mores.

And then off to the Coliseum we went to bawl our eyes out over "La Boheme" - the tragic opera that inspired "Rent". (The smiley photo of me was most definitely taken pre-show, prior to the red eyes and wet face.)

Friday, November 21, 2014


Ladies and gentlemen, after five-star reviews from the DC and New York Stage, we are happy to announce - for a special three-year engagement - the arrival in London of Miss Elizabeth Meckes.

My cousin is moving to London!!!!

Effy arrives at Heathrow this morning. I'm stuck in meetings, but one of my mates is going to meet her, chauffeur-with-a-twist-style:

Effy has a job with Amnesty International. She's also quite possibly taking over the role of Becca's social secretary. 

This could get quite dangerous quite quickly...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Mostly, I'm cooking a lot and eating very healthily in London.

Except Dishoom. 

One of the other Marshalls discovered it; it's entirely his fault. 

There is a delicious Bombay restaurant in London. There were two locations. But now, there's a dangerous third. It's quite close to King's Cross - which is dangerous in and of itself, of course. And the thing isn't actually open's in the midst of its soft opening. Which means that, while training all their staff and finishing their building, everything is half off. 50%. Drinks, all courses. 

Danger. Danger, Will Robinson. 

When one can get three cocktails, a good bottle of red wine, five appetisers, four mains, and bread for under £40...what is one to do?

(Eat a lot, is the answer.)

So. That's basically what I've been up to the past week. ;)

Happily, they open for real later this week. The Thanksgiving-like gorging is coming to a forced halt very soon!

In the meantime, last Bombay dinner is happening this evening. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Anonymised notes from the invitation to the Housewarming Party I'm going to tonight:

"We moved to our flat on 20 July 2014. Well, to be precise, A, B, and C moved in. D was in Liverpool. Then A went to NYC, a week before D came down from Liverpool. By the time A returned, D was in the States. The day before D came back, B went to Atlanta. And then while B was in the air, heading east over the North Atlantic, C left for his long-awaited European sojourn. And C was gone until October. It turns out that the four of us were not in the house together at the same time for even one minute until about 23:30 on 25 October. That is 3 months 5 days and 7 hours, or 27% of our entire lease. So you can understand why we were so happy to be reunited.

"Despite having had you over for several parties before, we wanted to have a proper housewarming. The first available weekend night: 8pm Saturday 15 November. That’s 32% of the way through our lease for those of you keeping track. Ok, the house is already warm..."

Props to them on their careful record-keeping, I suppose.

In any case...I, of course, know of only one way to warm a house, and that's via the oven.

Yesterday consisted of homemade truffle making. Today, there shall be cookies and banana bread.

And maybe I'll even squeeze in some actual work somewhere in there. But maybe not. It is Saturday, after all. ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus at the Aldwych Theatre!!!

Sunday 7 December, 5pm
Aldwych Theatre, London
The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus presents a Musical Celebration for Peace

The Jerusalem Foundation UK is proud to present The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli high school students, in their debut UK Tour this December. Singing out for hope, mutual understanding, and a better future for all in the Holy Land, the Chorus seeks also to promote interfaith efforts in the UK during their visit this Christmas season.

On Sunday 7 December 2014, the Israeli and Palestinian singers of the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus invite you to A Musical Celebration for Peace. Be a part of the experience: hear stories and sounds of the season from the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, New London Children’s Choir, AfterParty A Cappella, and special guest Miel de Botton.

This family-friendly evening will include holiday favourites, original arrangements, and musical styles from around the world.

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus empowers young singers from East and West Jerusalem to become leaders for peace in their communities by providing a space where they can engage one another in musical and verbal dialogue. They are looking forward to sharing their journey with you in song and story at the Aldwych Theatre on Sunday 7th December from 5pm.

Tickets are available online (, over the telephone (0845 200 7981), and in person from the Aldwych Theatre Box Office.

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus is proud to present their first full-length music video with YouTube star Sam Tsui. “Home” has received global attention and been featured in The Huffington Post.

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus UK Tour is organized through the Jerusalem Foundation UK Office. The Jerusalem Foundation is proud to support the Jerusalem Youth Chorus and other coexistence projects in Jerusalem. For more information please visit or contact Rachel Silver, PR Consultant Jerusalem Foundation UK | +44 797-498-3859

For more information about the Chorus please visit:

To schedule an interview, contact Claire McDonald: | +44 741-574-2291

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

London Life and Lights

I am slowly growing used to actually living in London, rather than psyching myself into thinking I'm just on a long business trip and will be back in a smaller city soon.

London is, of course, magical. It's London! But I simply am not a big city girl, and I'm not sure I ever will. Two and a half years left to convert me... ;)

Trying to get somewhere at 9am, 5pm, or weekend nights is simply never fun. Fighting my way through crowds just to get to school is never going to be my idea of fun. Traveling an hour+ to get to a meeting in your own city isn't either. concerts and shows, regular influxes of amazing lecturers, being a hub for mates flying through to other places...these are all grand. Running along the Thames at 6am when virtually no one else exists is quite delightful. The lights of London streets preparing for the holidays are exquisite. And I will forever adore the beauty of the Somerset House ice skating rink and huge tree.

So, all in all...I'm not miserable. ;)

That being said...I get to visit both Edinburgh and Norwich soon!! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NIFS Season

November for many of you in the States means pumpkin lattes, coloured leaves, and brisk air. 
For others of us, though, it means that delightfully exciting yet stressful time of year when interviews and selection for the Marshall, Rhodes, etc. scholarships take place. It is also the time of year the new Marshall Scholars begin exploring their options for the second year of their British academic career. 
Enter lots and lots and lots of coffee and Skype meetings for Becca! It's always a lot of fun - practice interviews with mentees are a blast. But of course it's always tricky to manage never know who else is interviewing and who will win. For new Marshalls exploring options for next year, the job is a bit easier: Encourage them to look far out of OxBridge-London, set them up with meetings with relevant faculty if I know any, and remind them they're spoiled for choice and are likely to have a great year regardless of where they ultimately decide to go. 
So...should anyone be seeking life advice, I'm well practiced right at this moment. Of course, I'm not really good for much other than "here's how to tweak this essay" and "look at this British university". ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Return of "Ramblings"...for real

My vlog had several false "starts" this summer, as I traveled, then shot a video explaining why I hadn't been rambling and promising to start again...and it kept not happening.

But. I really must start properly doing academic work for this PhD. And that means focus of some sort. Enter "Ramblings" as an accountability tool.

I'm using the series to give a shout-out to my two major projects at the moment, with the Kuwait Dive Team and the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. I'll then give an overview of my Edinburgh dissertation. And's time to ramble about various PhD topics. Game on, Ivory Tower. :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

And back to work!

And we are getting back to the swing of things. After a fairly calm weekend post-Kuwait jetlag, it's meetings today and the rest of this week - which is probably good for the sake of some sort of productivity. ;)

Tonight is another Members' Night at the British Museum. A Marshall mate and I are going to explore the Ming Dynasty and porcelain...

And eventually, it's also time to turn 20000 words of notes into some kind of book!!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Maasalama, Kuwait!

It's gone too quickly! I don't want to leave!
Kuwait has been very, very good to me. I've had an absolutely amazing time...and have 15000 words of notes to transform into a "short" book about the Kuwait Dive Team! (We'll see if I manage to keep the word count low!)

The last few days, I have:

Explored the ruins of a partially sunken ship.

Raised the Kuwaiti flag on a degrading oil island to draw attention to the need to maintain it to avoid environmental harm.

Made a new friend. (Sadly, I don't think British Customs will let me bring the camel home. My flatmate probably wouldn't be thrilled either.)

 Driven a boat for the first time.

Met and learned from many adorable Kuwaiti children. One of them sang "Do, a Deer" from "The Sound of Music" with me!

Ate at Taco Bell. (There isn't a Taco Bell in London. It was silly, but exciting.)

Saw the plans for a freshwater lake for migratory birds in an expanded nature reserve.

And's time to go home. :(
Kuwait, I will miss you! Thank you for an AMAZING five days!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kuwaiti Update

Hello, everyone! Briefly, both because I'm having too much fun doing things to write it all up in blog form and because I don't want to spoil the book:

I am having an AMAZING time. Absolutely gorgeous views, and incredibly people doing wonderful things.

Since Sunday, I have:
-Toured Kuwait's Grand Mosque;
-Snorkeled in the Gulf;
-Learned how to scuba dive;
-Dived for oysters;
-Swam with eels;
-Salvaged rubbish from the reef;
-Salvaged an old fridge floating around the water;
-Released baby octopi back to the ocean;
-Replaced the rope on a mooring buoy to prevent anchor damage;
-Helped teach 180 Kuwaiti schoolkids about marine conservation and cleaned the beach with them.

So...that's all cool.

:)   :)   :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

And she's off!

For those of you who don't know: I'm going to Kuwait! Queuing for the plane at Heathrow now. 
I was honoured to be invited by the Kuwait Dive Team to come visit them, observe and take part in their activities, and write a book in English on them. 
The Team is an amazing group of volunteers who dive off the coasts of Kuwait to keep the coral reefs healthy. They lift rubbish off the seabed - including entires yachts, sunken military waste, and the like. They also run educational programmes around the country, running mobile beach clean-ups where students to learn about recycling and reintroduce fish species to the ecosystem. The team has some great social media out there - check out
But much of their stuff is in Arabic.
Enter Becca! I'm going to go spend a week with them, frantically taking notes on all of the amazing work I see. And then it's writing time!
They'll do a self-printing in Kuwait...but we are hoping to formally publish in the US or UK somewhere. If anyone has ins to a publishing house who would want to run an amazing spread on great work happening in the Gulf, let me know!
For I fly!!


Off I ran to Cardiff, the capital of Wales, for Thursday and Friday. 
In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Marshall Scholars (the first class arrived in 1953), the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission is hosting a series of lectures throughout the year. We will be visiting each of the four capital cities of the UK and hearing distinguished Marshall Scholars from a variety of disciplines. The first was Professor Douglas Melton from Harvard, working on stem cell research in preventing and curing degenerative diseases. Thursday night, a good-sized group of us stayed at a really cool hostel in order to enjoy a night out in lovely Cardiff, including a dinner in a beautiful glass-walled restaurant overlooking the Bay. Our hostel came with free breakfast and a mini-pool set. Grand fun. 
And...there we were in Cardiff. Which just happens to be the home of the "Doctor Who" Interactive Experience and Museum. Which just happened to reopen on Friday with the new adventure starring Peter Capaldi after regeneration. The Teller was there live and everything. It was incredibly delightful. A fellow Whovian Marshall and I were joined by another mate for geeky shenanigans. 
So that was, altogether, not a miserable two days. ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Picnic time!

I am refusing to give way to the threat of fall/winter-like weather. Yesterday I picked up takeaway from my favourite Thai joint near King's Cross and took it to mates at King's. We wandered to the Victoria Embankment Gardens and luncheoned outside...with only a wee bit of shivering. 
The sky is not even pretending to be blue today, though. Our outdoor days may be coming to a quick and decisive end. 
Sadly, October in the UK does not mean the riot of colour it does in Michigan. At least not in London! Facebook is becoming a graphic fix for me. Pumpkins and leaves and ghosts, oh my!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oxford Pop

My stint in London semi-permanently didn't last very long.
I'm pulling into Oxford via coach now...and will be here for a whopping three hours. Nothing like Sunday morning business meetings to make the weekend!
The 2014 Class of Marshall Scholars have elected their secretary. Since the 2011, 2013, and 2014 secretaries are all based in Oxford, I lose on the location game and it makes lots of sense to come to them. So here I be. 
Conveniently, I've arranged a meeting to plan the Jerusalem Youth Chorus' activities in Oxford during their tour as well. Making the trip a wee bit more worthwhile! Not that the coach ride to Oxford isn't worth it in and of itself...ha!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ahh, London

It is slowly sinking in that I actually live in London. 
For the first six-plus weeks, I was in and out of town so much - trotting off to Edinburgh, Norwich, Oxford, Cambridge - that I'm not sure my brain actually grasped the basic reality that I was living in London, instead of that being just another of the cities I was visiting. 
But the morning routine, and this particular neighbourhood, and meetings at uni are all starting to become properly normal. And I think, perhaps, I can now say with no small amount of shame/hesitation/irony...I'm an adopted Londoner. 

Oh glory. 

Monday, October 13, 2014


I am now in London for a whopping ten days! Very exciting. 
Less exciting, I am once again doing battle with this chest cold that refuses to die properly. Much of this week may be spent attempting to consume as much tea as possible in order to kill the sucker. 
This afternoon, I'm heading to the Launch of Project Earth Rock, a new curriculum using music to teach environmental science. I'm rather looking forward to pretending to be a British primary school teacher for a few hours. ;)
I've a few more 1-1s with new Marshalls this week, and lots of PhD reading to do!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Anglias!

Last weekend was Oxford. So, naturally, this weekend is Cambridge. 

But who just pops to Cambridge for the weekend without nipping up to Norwich?

I'm on a train this morning to Cambridge, and then I'm instantly jumping on a train to Norwich, where I have my first official business as a UEA Visiting Fellow! (It is not giving some epic lecture. I have to take in a hard copy of my new visa for their records in order to properly activate me in the system. Thrilling, I know.) I will also be meeting the new MSc a Water Security students and some faculty whilst there. And then back to Cambridge I wander!

I'll be having 1-1s with the new Cambridge Marshalls, as well as two in Manchester who are conveniently visiting this weekend. I'm also meeting up with a few other Cambridge folk I know through various US faculty and work in Norfolk (one of the folks who helps teach at Holt Hall with me is just starting uni there!). 

It shall be a very grand weekend. And maybe when I come back, I will actually begin real work. ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Home" by the Jerusalem Youth Chorus

am happy to announce the launch of a very special music video featuring the work of an organisation incredibly near and dear to my heart, the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a choral and dialogue programme for Israeli and Palestinian students from East and West Jerusalem. A beloved friend of mine, Micah Hendler, graduated from Yale after being in the Whiffenpoofs and took his love for singing, his passion for peace, and his determination to Jerusalem where he is using his talents to empower high schoolers.  I visited the Chorus this summer and had an absolutely amazing time with the students. More about the Chorus can be found online at

The Chorus has made an amazing music video featuring YouTube star Sam Tsui. The video is a cover of Phillip Phillips' "Home". “Home” is a video about the realities of growing up in Jerusalem as Israeli and Palestinian youth and how the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus is able to create a home for all despite the divisions that surround it. We hope that the community of equality, empathy, inclusiveness, and love that we share in this video can be an inspiration to create a Jerusalem that can uphold these values for all.

I am asking for your help and support in watching and sharing the YouTube video - with friends, family, and colleagues and via any media you can! We are truly hoping to make the video go viral.

For those based in the UK, I am also thrilled to announce that the Jerusalem Youth Chorus will be touring in London and Oxford 3-8 December 2014, including a major concert in central London Sunday evening 7 December. Ticket information is coming soon; please let me know if you would like to receive more details as the tour is arranged. I am helping with tour logistics, so I am able to help with large groups at the concert and potential partnerships/sponsorships if you are interested. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any ideas, suggestions, or requests.

In the meantime - please do watch and share!

Yours in song,

Friday, October 3, 2014


As part of my devious plan to meet all of the 2014 Marshall Scholars properly, I am traveling to their main stomping grounds. This morning found me on a very early train to Oxford (from the ever delightful Paddington Station, which makes it difficult to be grumpy even about 6am travel). I have lots of back-to-back coffee and meal dates with various folks in an attempt to manage one-on-ones with everyone. The weekend is thus going to involve a rather excessive amount of eating as I go from breakfast to brunch to lunch to tea to dinner...but what's a girl supposed to do?
As luck would have it, I am also coming in as the 2014 Rhodes arrive. We have a joint picnic this afternoon, so I'll have the chance to meet a bunch of them as well.  
Too many people, too little time. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

And the guests just keep coming...

I will have you know that I waited a full six days after moving into my London flat before I started hosting guests. 
But it is now guests in the plural...a course mate from Edinburgh got a job in London and is frantically flat hunting. Until she finds somewhere, my flat is home!
Of course, we can just consider this my paying it forward or building good karma or something...since I'm going to crash with other folks in Oxford this weekend. Time to meet the new Rhodes Scholars and get to know the Oxford Marshalls a bit better!
One of these days, I really am going to just shut myself in my room and refuse to come out for a week. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

And the cold comes...

Not that kind of cold. I'm seeing plenty of posts on Facebook about autumn-y things in the States (I don't know I've ever seen so much pumpkin worship), but the weather is gorgeous and still decently summery here in London. 
But I've had a very quiet move-in process...I'd been fighting a sore throat for about a week before getting into the flat, but as soon as I dropped my baggage off, I managed to contract a full-on fit of coughing and sneezing. It's all been quite impressive. By which I mean that it's warranted cancelling a bunch of meetups with mates and quarantining myself in my nice new flat. I think perhaps my body objected to the constant changing of bed, town, and country all the summer and decided to tell me off at the earliest opportunity. ;)
I am slowly on the mend, I type as I cough into my sleeve whilst on the Tube (sorry, commuters). I'm headed to Heathrow Airport to pick up Micah, the fantastic founded and director of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. They're planning a tour of the UK for December that I'll be helping with. Micah's here for just three days to do some prep work...and happily, I know have a bed for him in London to crash on!
So...back to life we go. Thank goodness for cough drops. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Flat!!

I now officially officially live in London...which is to say, I've slept one night in my flat of temporarily permanent residence, received a piece of mail, and put my books on the shelves!
Slowly exploring the surrounding neighbourhoods, which are all quite lovely. 
I'm on the Tube now - my first commute to university from my new place! Also exciting is the fact that I have just purchased an Annual TravelCard on my Student OysterCard...I can now travel around central London to my heart's content. 
I am doing one-on-ones with all of the new Marshalls in the next few weeks to get to know them better. First round of lunches, coffees, and dinners is today. I'm also meeting with the PhD tutor at King's. And maybe eventually I'll actually do some academic reading during this whole "doctoral study" thing. ;)

Monday, September 22, 2014

British Museum Members' Night

I have just had an excessively delightful evening. Thanks to my new Membership at the British Museum, I - and a guest! - are invited to monthly Members' Nights at the Museum. Doors open at 6:15 for "Night at the Museum"-esque experiences. The dinosaurs don't come to life, but the Rosetta Stone is sitting all by its lonesome so you can actually see it:

The special exhibits are free to Members, and they do an evening of special lectures and crafts around the exhibits. 
Craig, my mentee from Michigan State who has just arrived in Cambridge as. 2014 Marshall Scholar, trained over to join me. We had a lovely catch-up over dinner at the Museum Tavern and then went to catch an exhibit on the art of the Ming Dynasty in China. And, even more epic for me: "Ancient Lives, New Discoveries"...eight Nile area mummies and Egyptology!!!
From about 200 years ago, the British Museum stopped unwrapping mummies in its collection, recognising the inevitable destruction of the scholarship. Thanks to that foresight, we now have a decent collection of mummies as preserved as they can be. And we now have the technology to examine those mummies, in quite amazing detail, without unwrapping. The physical anthropologists at the Museum are working with CT scanning technologies and then some serious modelling software to scan the mummies at really high frequency and create 3D models of the insides. They're able to distinguish and peel away layers - so we can see the bones, soft tissue, bandaging, amulets, etc. all separately - and make conclusions about the life and health and occupation etc. etc. about each. 
Craig and I got to poke around in an interactive exhibit on the mummies for a it and then attended a fascinating lecture from the Museum's Head Physical Anthropologist on how they developed the exhibit, key findings, the way they collaborate with other teams and labs to do this kind of intense work, the moral issues inherent in studying and displaying human remains, and what he hopes they'll be able to do in the future. Truly amazing stuff going on. 
Perhaps one of the coolest: They discovered that one of their unwrapped mummies is buried with gorgeous amulets. Rather than unwrapping to get at them and thus destroying the body, they were able to do detailed enough scans to make 3D prints of the amulet. So they now have the objects for study and display without actually damaging anything. So, so cool. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

One last Edi weekend

I had a final few days in Edinburgh before properly moving into my London flat. 
Thursday was The Vote. Scotland voted to stay part of the UK - but the vote was fairly tight, and certain parts of the country (most notably, Glasgow) did vote in favour of independence. Conversations about the future of the UK are likely to keep being instigated by the certainly sparked a lot of debate about world and domestic politics! But I won't be needing my passport to cross the border anytime soon. ;) I was on the train from London when the vote was officially called; they made an announcement on the train. 
This Friday, I spoke with incoming students at Edinburgh's Law School about my year and my work with Edinburgh Law Connections. That night, I joined them for the Kickoff Wine Reception - and found a few students with common research interests, a new friend from London to tease, and some fellow "Lord of the Rings" nerds (I wore my Evenstar so as to encourage them to come out to me...).
I had lunch with a friend from Norwich who is now working up here Saturday The Elephant House, naturally!
I'm now headed back to London, essentially for good. I move into my flat near Victoria on Tuesday!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


With great celebration, pomp, and joy, the 2014 Marshall Scholars have arrived in the United Kingdom!!
We met them in Leicester Square last night after a full day of redeye flight and information orientation from the Marshall staff. Took the exhausted darlings to dinner, out to a pub, and got most of them home by about 10pm. 
Today, they meet a Member of Parliament, tour Westminster, hear from current Scholars, meet the NHS, and then have an evening reception at the Foreign Commonwealth Office. I'll join them for the FCO...which may well involve a good deal of discussion about The Vote. 
Happy voting day, Scotland! It's Referedum time, and folks living in Scotland are voting on whether or not the country should be an independent State. Reasons for and against are complex and involve a lot of future guesswork. Either way it goes, it'll be fun to watch the shakeout!
Tomorrow, the Scholars bus off to their various unis. I am training to Edinburgh to speak at their Orientation. 
For this afternoon,'s time to enrol at King's College London! :)

Update: A photo of me and two Marshall Scholars whose applications I was vaguely involved with at the Foreign Commonwealth Office!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bright Futures!

I'm rounding out my Norfolk Tour by teaching at Holt Hall on another "Bright Futures" programme. We've 22 16-18 year-old students from Fakenham and Litcham schools in Norfolk, as well as two lovely young ladies from Norway's Randaberg College. We also have mentors from university undergrads, Marshall Scholars, and environmental teachers in the area.
The students are working on mathematics, statistics, energy usage and cost, carbon reduction techniques, leadership, teambuilding, and campaigning skills. At the end of the programme, they have the opportunity to go into their schools, primary schools in the neighbourhood, and/or community organisations and do paid work as energy consultants to work on energy saving and project evaluations.
We have had a grand time exploring the beautiful grounds of Holt Hall, roasting marshmallows, and singing obnoxious American campfire songs!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Swimming Lesson!

It has been quite a while since I attended a "lesson" in the traditional sense. I seem to have left piano, singing, and any form of practice mostly behind me. But this morning...I attended a swimming lesson!

As most of you probably know, I'm rather a fish. Swimming lessons for me are perhaps unnecessary, unless I were trying to learn synchronised diving (I am not). 

However, a certain young person I am caring for this weekend *does* still require lessons in not drowning and maritime enjoyment. And so, off Iorwerth and I went to Norwich Baby Penguins!

The earlier the better, as far as most learned skills go. Swimming can start literally from Day 1 (after all, they've more or less been swimming for the past nine months!). At Baby Penguins, infants and toddlers frolic about in the water, learning specific motions to well-known songs to practice the needed strokes. At this age, parents get to join them to provide moral and physical I stole a swimming costume from Anne-Marie, and in I went!

A grand time was had by all. I haven't been in a traditional pool in quite a while, actually...dandy dandy. 

Mummy and Daddy are in London this weekend on a birthday minibreak. So Iorwerth and Becca are having a delightful date weekend...swimming was only the start! Heaven only knows what all we'll get ourselves into. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spanish Dinner!

Tonight, Miss Anna - the new student au pair at Iorwerth's - made us a Spanish omelette, a delectable meal common throughout Spain of egg, fried potato, and onion. We also had Spanish cheese, a spicy tomato salsa on bread, and Spanish deli meats. To "help" after school, Iorwerth, Anna, and I went on an expedition to buy potatoes and eggs. And then Miss Anna chopped and cooked all afternoon while Maestro and Miss Becca read and played.
Tonight was the old student au pair's last dinner with the full family, so we had the very traditional Spanish dessert of...chocolate cake.
'Twas a very good evening, all in all.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Seussian Lesson in Perspective

As we saw last Wednesday, balls in parks
*can* be used to teach parabolic arcs. 

But even more so - if such is your objective -
they can be used to demonstrate a bit of art perspective. 

For if one places a clever ball in front of one's human eyes,
One can make distant objects small, rather like a portable disguise!

So to continue this Seussian tale of educative learning,
I ask aloud where the Spire has gone, my voice all full of yearning.
But while I question, puzzle and ponder,
Oh look! The Maestro moves and something's seen off yonder. 

The ball is gone; the Spire's in range, and we've learned lots - for instance!
We've seen that seeming size can change, thanks to the art of relative distance.

So now we're homeward bound, and as we explore,
We're thankful for the world around and learning galore.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


I am in one city for a solid week - to the hour!!
Into Norwich Rail Station at 4:30pm on Sunday 7 September. 
Sunday evening with Maestro and then a conference call to check-in with friends through the AMENDS Network. 
Monday I have three conference calls, some paperwork to catch up on, and Iorwerth pickup. 
Tuesday I'll be going to a strategic retreat for the Water Security Research Centre at UEA. 
Wednesday is hereby named "Friendsday", as I'm scheduling back to back coffee and meal dates with various friends. 
Thursday is currently unscheduled other than Iorwerth pickup. 
Friday I have a morning meeting, and then Iorwerth's parents are off for a weekend minibreak. Maestro and I have a date at home!!
Sunday - at right about 4:30pm - I'll leave Norwich to go teach on a Bright Futures programme at Holt Hall. 
I don't even know what sleeping on the same surface for seven days is like anymore. ;)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hello, goodbye

I am thoroughly confused by the number of hellos and goodbyes going on in my life these days.
I "moved" to London on 1 September but don't get into my flat till the 23rd. So I've been staying with mates in London and with Iorwerth and family in Norwich. 
The day I got into London, my cousin just happened to be in town for an interview. She lives in New York but has spent the summer traveling Southeast Asia. It's been years since we've seen each other properly. Just we had a nice catch-up, and then learned that she in fact got the job and is moving to London in a month. To celebrate, we quickly got on a train to Norwich, where she got much cheaper lodging before her new job puts her up for a workshop next week. And proceeding to have a grand time playing with the kiddo. Iorwerth was quite enamoured with Miss Elizabeth's scooter skills. 

Then it was up before 5am this morning for an early train to London in order to spend as much time as possible with Garrett in the 36 hours between turning in his dissertation and getting on a plane to go back to America permanently. I'll also be saying goodbye to Elizabeth, though this one is only a very temporary adieu. 
Meanwhile, prep continues for the massive round of hellos to the new Marshall Scholars, arriving the 16th. 
Someday in the not-quite-foreseeable future, I am going to have a moderately stable social group again...