Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Great outdoors

Now and then there will be a stream of students looking for hand lenses. This means a field trip. Geology field trips have to be to cold, wet, windy places - there is some secret law about this. There is usually one trip to a hot, sunny place just to remind you that you could have been a geography student and spent your trips in Malta, Italy and Greece. Geologists are obliged to go to Scotland, Iceland and Siberia. Or a bleak moorland. Bleak moorlands with rocky outcrops, of course. And swamp.

An important part of my geology degree was the mapping project. So important, actually, that it should have capitals: The Mapping Project. For this you were given free rein. Get funding and you can go wherever you like. St Lucia. Peru. Tanzania. Interesting, sunny places. I picked Durness, on the North coast of Scotland. I can't remember why. Probably the funding thing.

A friend decided to pick an area adjacent to mine so we could share accommodation. This accommodation, on our departmental budget of 76p a day (approximately), turned out to be a caravan in Mrs Campbell's garden. Actually getting to Durness meant a train journey part of the way, followed by a ride in the post bus to the town. Our instructions took us East of the town, past fields of sheep and a tiny petrol station to Mrs Campbell's and our temporary home. It wasn't a tiny caravan and we started out with a bedroom each, though my friend felt it was better, for our mutual benefit, to give over his room to the containment of his walking boots and their associated stench. We had a radio, a toaster, two rings on the hob and a tiny oven. We were here for 6 weeks and we had to make a map. Difficult to know where to start.

The obvious thing was to go and see if there was a pub.

(I'll come back to this.)

No comments: