Sunday, March 29, 2015

Moving Day

I moved in with a mate yesterday, albeit somewhat temporarily.

My family from Norwich are moving to London!!!!!! We spent yesterday afternoon (immediately after I dropped all my stuff off at my new place) looking at houses. Iorwerth drove me about Ealing in search of our favourite neighbourhoods:

I've moved because it made most sense to give up my lease on the initial place at the six-month mark. Happily, Alex has a spare room he was willing to have taken over whilst the family move is up in the air. Once they sign on a house, I'll likely be in between the two places all summer whilst frolicking about on various trips.

Many thanks to Alex for his gracious hospitality. Now that I've dumped all my stuff off, it's time to leave for Norwich to teach tomorrow at the Sheringham Mo Museum!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The last tutorials...

My teaching with The Brilliant Club for this term is already coming to a near end. 
After our launch trips, we go into schools for four tutorials. There's then a month+ break, during which the students write and I grade their final assignments. There's then one more in-school feedback tutorial to talk about the grades, get thoughts on the course, and talk about uni options. 
I'm traveling to Orpington this morning to give the last of their four tutorials; Hayes had theirs yesterday. Then I'm done until mid-April, when I'll do my first ever formal marking as I sort through their essays. But I won't see the ducklings until 6 May. And I'm gonna miss them; they're absolutely hysterical. Really fantastic students who are engaged and asking all sorts of fascinating questions...which is, after all, the basis of the course.

More about The Brilliant Club from "Ramblings with Rebecca":
More about the class I'm teaching:

Monday, March 23, 2015

AMENDS in Istanbul!!

I am very happily back amongst the AMENDS Fellows, getting reenergised and resource-swapping. We're based at Koç University in Turkey this year, having fun frolicking about Istanbul and debating the future of our Network.

As you can see here, we're taking things very seriously:

 We are staying in the gorgeous Fuat Paşa Hotel - directly on the Bosphorus, Turkey's beautiful strait forming part of the barrier between Europe and Asia. There are green, forested mountains surrounding the university campus. All in all, I'm utterly miserable. ;)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hull, Round 2

Two years ago, I visited the English city of Hull, birthplace of William Wilberforce, to deliver a lecture on the Evolving Role of the US Presidency as part of the Marshall Scholars' Speakers' Bureau. This year, I went again to give a slightly different talk on the same topic with a different subgroup of Scholars. We purposefully got in early and left late in order to frolic about the museums a bit. Had a delightful time revisiting some places I had been before with more awareness about contemporary Britain, adding new perspectives via the other Scholars, and finding a few new places.
The talk went well, and we had a dandy time exploring! Our trip included stumbling on a club located within an old church building called "The Mission", where we had a rather epic foosball tournament...

Every museum really should include a dress-up section...

Pints below the stained glass...only moderately sacrilegious of us.

Paying homage to one of the UK's leading abolitionists.

The Church of the Holy Trinity reflected in a modern office building.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I realise it probably seems that I am in Norwich every other week. But that never makes it any less delightful for me.

I went in to join a mate for her end-of-MBA and finish-of-job drinks, and conveniently managed to organise a lot of meetings for my UEA teaching and Norfolk County Council outdoor residentials.

This weekend, Anne-Marie and the family were hosting a pile of American tourists: her great-aunt, a cousin, and a mate. We had fun showing off Norwich to new Americans - even as Eamonn dealt with an all-time record of Americans in the house when suddenly Nina and her parents, also visiting, showed suddenly we had nine Americans in the same room. And then several of the same pubs. Suffice it to say that we were loud. ;)

Friday night, we had theatre tickets to Austentatious - which I saw in Edinburgh as part of the Fringe Festival as well. A thoroughly delightful show every time, as a group of improv actors draws an audience-suggested book title out of a hat and proceeds to perform it, Austen-style, in an entirely made up fashion (

Grand times were had by all.

Friday, March 13, 2015


The Marshall Scholar Speakers' Bureau sends us about various UK partner universities to speak on topics in American political and social life, U.S.-U.K. relations, and the like. Yesterday I got to do a day trip to Derby (pronounced "darr-bee", not "durr-bee" as in the Kentucky). I spoke to a first year undergraduate class on religion in American politics. It was a three hour session, so happily I was able to get them talking - listening to me ramble for a solid three hours couldn't possibly be a pleasant experience for anyone involved.
After the morning class, I took a wee wander around the industrial town, popping into several of its museums and a pub that dates to 1530AD. 
The train ride was lovely, as I was just starting to get into the Peak District. 
This weekend is Norwich once again for meetings. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Priory School

I got to head into the second of my Brilliant Club schools today, where the students and I had fun wrestling with terms like "authoritative knowledge" and "epistemology". A grand time was had by all.
Especially me, since I got two fantastic walks through adorable and not inner-city neighbourhoods on the way to and fro. 
Particular favourites of the journey to Orpington include this delightfully literal gem of a street name:

(Well, I'm assuming its literal. I didn't actually *see* the gravel pit one assumes is the namesake for this route.)

Also this sign and complex name:

So many delightful things are happening in this photo. Putting aside my newfound desire to live at Lancelot Court on Avalon Road, I have learned that "fly tipping" refers to dumping large objects on the street - curbside deposit of sofas and whatnot. The pupils and I had a great giggle when I asked them to explain it to me and I introduced the American collegiate practice of cow-tipping to them. 

You learn something new every day, folks. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Years & Years

I went last evening to my second real concert. (My first was P!nk at the O2 a couple years ago, which I ended up at when a colleague had an extra ticket fairly last minute. By "real concert", I mean place with crazy people standing up and screaming over the presence of some dude with a guitar. Clearly I follow this scene really carefully. Haha.) A band named "Years & Years" (who, if I understand correctly, just got a #1 hit single or something) was playing in town. Effy and another Marshall mate have followed them for years and years (see what I did there?) and were insanely excited, so I jumped on for the ride. 
The band was really quite good. And several songs were fairly mellow, so k wasn't just in an insane mob of manic. 
Before heading to the gig, we popped into a nearby restaurant for London's attempt at Mexican food. The sopa de tortilla was actually quite lovely, and that way we could actually catch up without shouting in each other's ears at the concert. 

Afterward, they all wanted to I somehow managed to be out far past my bedtime. But I made it safely home on a night bus and am now happily headed to brunch at The Breakfast Club. 
Also on the agenda this weekend: a meeting about the eighth international workshop on hydro-hegemony, a return to the very fabulous Kensington Unitarians, and a good amount of PhD work. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Brilliant Club Launch

'Tis the season for teaching! March marks my in-school placement with The Brilliant Club, the charity placing PhD researchers with low participation schools around England. I'll be teaching in two schools around Orpington,  southern suburb of London. 
Yesterday, I met one of my schools at the University of Sussex. Pupils enjoy a first day at a university, including tours of the campus and meetings with uni staff, as part of their course. I'll then go into the school 5 times to deliver university-style tutorials. The students will have a final assignment, graded at a level higher than their current level and according to a uni-style system, and then they get a graduation trip at another university to show off some of the diversity of higher education. Hopefully by the end, the students have had the chance to build their confidence and get an idea of whether and why university is right for them. 
My liaison teachers are fantastic; the students are great; Sussex is always beautiful and hilly. The day was, well...brilliant. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A week of bucolic bliss

After an absolutely fabulous time in Norwich and Norfolk teaching energy and campaigning, I am back in London.
I got in some rural pastoral bliss before having to head back to the city. Particular favourite was frolicking in the mud with teens all day only to come back to the glorious fire:

The kids all seemed to have a good week, and it's always fun teasing the other mentors who come along to help run the programme:

Jenny, my co-coordinator, and I had a good time as well, in between fighting with technology in the middle of lectures:

I am now somewhat tragically returned to the big city; however, it is a glorious day out, and I am on my way to the Unitarian Chapel near Notting Hill. So there's only so much misery that all can contain. :)