Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Let's blow the dust off this tome...

And here we kick off season two of Ryan's Antarctic adventures! And we begin this tale, as so many other classics begin, in the top floor of a flophouse in Bishop's Stortford. On a Sunday night.

Well, a "flophouse" may be an exaggeration. The place is a 15th century inn called the Boar's Head. When I walked in at 5pm to book a room, it looked like a sleepy old man's pub - not my type, with TV's, one Green King ale, and a fruit machine - but good enough for a night's accommodation. My room was fairly plain, but serviceable. But then things went downhill.

The sheets stink. Literally, they smell bad. And at 11pm, when I thought the pub would close, an army of chavs came in, cranked the music, and seemed to engage in a contest of who can shout the loudest. And there was about a half inch of plywood between them and my rank-smelling bed. "Time to write my blog," I thought.

So, let's back up a moment.

Since I last wrote, our protagonist returned from Antarctica to a flurry of social acivities, including two really fun weddings in Oxford. And then a trip to Canada, to celebrate a belated Christmas with the family in the Rockies. And then, back to work.

When I first came back to Cambridge, I needed a convenient place to stay. My opportunity came, oddly, in the men's room at Halley, where our vehicle manager Martin Bell suggested I could live at his place in Cambourne. Informally named "the Bell Hotel", it remains a place where itinerant Antarctic pilgrims pass through to and from Antarctica. Kind of like an Antarctic halfway-house. Usually, it's full of vehicle mechs in the fall, but pretty quiet in the spring. Thus began my 3 month stay in Cambourne, a development 5 miles to the west of Cambridge. Highlight of the social scene in Cambourne is the parking lot of the local grocery store. But there are also buses to Cambridge every 10 minutes, so I wasn't far from the action.

However, I knew that my college, Wolfson, would have spots opening up in the summer time, so I moved back in there June 1st. And there I have remained, up until today. It's been quieter than the past, but still good.

Work has been steady, not too stressful; I've had a few good holidays, and found a few new pubs for my list (and two new all-stars: The Square and Compass in Dorset, and the Pub with No Name in Hampshire). And now, after a semblance of steady reality, it's time to go hobo again with an extended period of travel. Starting today.

Every year, at a quiet mountain town in northern Italy, a secret enclave of glaciologists gather to spread their lore among younger, worthy acolytes. And I have been chosen to join their numbers. Two weeks of modelling glaciers on computers, and exploring glaciers on foot. Should be good! I shall report from the town - called Karthaus - if facilities and oaths of secrecy permit.

So, I have moved out of Wolfson, and am once again homeless. After this two-week conference, I'll stop through Edinburgh on the way back, and then move onto the floor of my office mate Julian for a little while. Then it's back to Canada for a few weeks, and then back to Cambridge for a month and a bit - and then, off south again.

So, I've just handed my keys in to Wolfson, and decided to stay at a cheap place near Stansted, as I have an early flight in the morning.

Which brings us back to Bishop's Stortford, and my less-than-quiet Sunday night. I hope the next few months of transience are more pleasant.

And I hope that the variety of beds I will sleep on, will smell better than my current one.

Stay tuned...


Anonymous said...

Yay - and so the adventure continues! I've missed your blog updates! Enjoy Italia...

El x

Ryan said...

And hooray for you noticing! Hope to see you guys sometime soon after I get back...