About a week and a half ago I finally submitted my thesis, 40 months lab-work condensed into a document that was worryingly thinner than most. However, you work with what you have; padding the document with unnecessary figures and paragraphs will only serve to increase the length, to the detriment of the quality. As a secondary benefit, a short thesis also means that there is less to be familiar with for the viva, although I’m sure it will not work out that way in practice.
With the thesis submitted, there were few reasons to remain in Edinburgh; the viva itself isn’t until September. So last Saturday I headed south on the train, met my parents and a brother in Birmingham, and then headed off with my parents back to their house. For the first time in five years, I was back in my childhood room, not living out of a suitcase. It also meant, that for the first time in a year, I could get my desktop set up with a decent broadband connection again.
One of the problems with being back home, is the isolation. While I can’t pretend that my village is some rural backwater, without sewers, running water or electricity, it does lack basic facilities, such as a place to buy Jaffa cakes when you get a sudden craving at 8.30 pm. This dire lack of Jaffa cake suppliers is made even more apparent when you consider the colour of my driving license: it’s green. The inability to drive may seem surprising for someone who grew up in a rural area, but despite the obvious usefulness of the skill, cars bore me, and early attempts at learning soon made it apparent that I wasn’t exactly a natural. Then it wasn’t long before I was off to university, and for the past eight years I have not only not needed a car, but have been living in situations where its often easier not using one. I’m sure I will learn eventually, but I’m wary of doing so, and then not driving for a few years.
Yet now I’m back in rural Wiltshire, and while I don’t intend to be here long, it is certainly far longer than I could cope with being housebound. On top of this, a somewhat lacking public transport system means that I’d be constantly relying on parents or other people for lifts, which is neither polite, fair, or convenient. This is especially true over the next two weeks, as my parents will be in Spain, and the drive back would require I give them a couple of days notice, hardly convenient; oh, and it might break the polite and fair requirements as well.
Without the ability to drive four wheels, I have instead settled on two, and have purchased my first bike for several years1; it has also been ten or more years since I last cycled. While they say that you never forget how to ride a bike, I was still a bit cautious as I set out on it for the first time. Last night I began with a simple ride up and down the road to make sure everything was flowing smoothly, and today I took it for a short 6 mile round trip to a local walking spot. Fortunately it appears that I do still remember how to ride a bike, and failed to have any embarrassing crashes. The trip also revealed that I need to raise my handlebars slightly, and to tilt the saddle back, something that will depend on my finding a suitable Alan key. The bike however does give me mobility, and in concert with the rail network it should mean I can get almost anywhere. And who knows, perhaps even if I do fail to drive a car for a few years after learning, I’ll slip back behind the wheel with similar ease to slipping back behind the handlebars.
I hope to get back to writing some of the more structured blog entries shortly, once I’ve had a bit more consideration about how I intend to use this website in future.
- A Trek 7.0 FX, if you are interested, or even for that matter, if you are not. [↩]