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What do you do when you live in the middle of nowhere? Forget streaming the internet, with the exception of Cornwall, most rural countryside internet speeds are not fast enough to spend your week watching 3 series of Game of Thrones. Besides moaning about the appalling bus service and non-existent night clubs, activities are available when you live 10 miles from a Tesco.

I’m here to educate all the Londoners, Manchurians and other city-dwellers on the optimistic things to do as a young person stranded in a country village.

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Get your friends round for a west-country cider and a greasy burger or two. If it’s particularly warm then a water fight is probably imminent. It’s always best not to plan a water-fight, the more unprepared you are, the better.

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The night time air begins to crawl across your skin and it’s time to light the bonfire and cloak yourself in a blanket. Someone’s going to get a guitar out – just hope that the sing-a-longs don’t get too cheesey…

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West country cider or a crisp home brew in the sunshine. I don’t think any more needs to be said.

4. Baking

Hot puddings are my preference, one person can peel the fruits and another can get started on the crumble or fluffy sponge. Some neighbours are sure to offer you allotment excess fruits (rhubarb, raspberries and whatever it may be) and eggs aren’t hard to find either once you ask around. Flour – sugar – and away you go!

5. Cycling with a stop for a picnic

City cycling just isn’t the same as braving the hilly one track roads. Biking down the little lanes, there will be no grid-lock or pollution and the only annoyance you’re likely to come across will be the occasional tractor or pheasant. Once you feel you’ve huffed and puffed enough, it’s time to discover a woodland clearing to open up the picnic rucksack. Scotch-eggs ahoy!

So here, the list is probably exhausted, because I’m not fooling anyone – there is much more to do when you live in a city, and returning to the countryside feels like travelling back in time. You’d better hope it’s sunny, because this list is instantly halved if the rain sets in. Now go – go have fun in the wilderness!

 

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Happy Hallowe’en

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Having tried caving, it can’t be easy to take photos scrambling through tight dark crevices as mud and water seeps through your drenched waterproofs. Fortunately, most of Kastoria’s caves are beautifully lit and paved! The entrance is a heavy metal door, reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. My field course was situated nearby and we crept in! Near to the caves lies is the Kastorian monastery, highly decorated with very surreal looking religious artwork. Apparently Kastoria is overrun in the summer months, but in April it is serene and quiet, and if I returned to it as a crowded holiday town I’m not sure that I’d enjoy it as much!

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As a general rule, taxi drivers in Greece were not impressed with the vast quantities spent by authorities in attempts to clean Lake Kastoria. Our course popped over to Greece via Germany (seemed ridiculous but there you go) to check it out.

What did I learn from this field course? Well, Lake Kastoria was a eutrophic lake according to the Carlson (1977) TSI Index. But the lasting memory I have taken home from this trip is a much fuller knowledge of how densely packed the biota can be in such a tiny sample of netted water. Who knew? Here’s a sample of the Daphnia I spent hours counting to calculate pregnancy rates, abundances and average size.

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Carrying out our own small research tasks as a team and then writing up lab reports was time consuming, but the skills and techniques will surely be extremely useful when I move onto dissertations and more exciting research-based reports. We moved through a diverse range of phytoplankton, zooplankton and benthic invertebrates. I’m hoping for a place on the highly competitive Costa Rica field course next year. Fingers crossed! Supposedly 5% of the worlds biodiversity can be found there, so it would be amazing to sample such a high concentration of rainforest life! Apparently the coral reefs are incredible too. What an opportunity! I’ve wanted to visit the rainforest since primary school when I signed up to WWF to sponsor my orang-utan ‘Etin’ and various other endangered species. Please give me a shout if you’ve been and loved/hated Costa Rica!

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A good friend of mine introduced me to skiing four years ago now. Thank goodness she did. I really miss not going skiing each winter now, although it does remove a fair whack from the bank balance, I would say it is totally worth it. It’s my favourite sport by miles. Just like riding a bike downhill forever. To go back up the hill you simply kick back in a chair with some friends… what’s not to like? Even Nordic skiing, which I have attempted for a single day, felt like sliding uphill. Nonetheless, I sympathise completely if you criticised snowboarding. Spending your days smashing your buttocks on solid ice is not a holiday.

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2013 – lucky for some?

Yippee! Some top firework photo’s for you all – and I’ve just written my first article for Oxford Biotech Roundtable Review. Recently I’ve become the editor for the Manchester Chapter. If anyone is interested in science writing, let me know because I’m keen to get more people published.

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My article is about Smart Drugs, synthesized to help people with brain problems like ADHD, Dementia and Alzheimers – but also have the ability to increase memory and quickness of thinking in people who do not suffer from such disorders. The potential that these drugs hold for anyone under pressure appears to be incredible on the surface, but the side effects list insomnia and stroke if they are taken in the wrong volumes. Is it worth the risk? Read my article! http://obrreview.com/2013/smart-drugs-are-you-tempted

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