I’ve been quiet lately, so this is an update. The subheading for the blog reads, “a carbon-based biped from Scotland”. I should really add, “and living in London”. Although I’m only here for a few months, it’s the longest I’ve spent in the capital. I’m not new to London, but I usually visit for a few days or possibly a week at the longest. It’s nice to see more of the city and not be so rushed to take it all in.
So far, I’ve been a typical tourist. When I come down for a few days, I usually can’t afford to waste too much time exploring. it’s been nice to take in some of the sights at a leisurely pace. Most of the time I’ve been hitting the museums, especially the big ones. I always try to visit the Natural History Museum any chance I get. They’ve got dinosaurs. Enough said. Having a girlfriend with a MSc in Forensic Archaeological Science (and Ba in Egyptology) certainly makes a trip to British Museum even more enjoyable than usual. The first time, we focused on the ancient Egyptian artefacts, but I went back recently to see anything I’d missed the first time round. If either of those museums had free wifi I would work there everyday.
Two other museums I strongly recommend visiting: Grant’s Museum of Zoology, and the Hunterian Museum. Sadly, taking photos wasn’t allowed in the Hunterian, but they have amazing specimens highlighting specific diseases and different methods of preservation. The zoology museum is filled with specimens like these:
The curators seem quite creative and a little crazy at the zoology museum. I mean, aren’t these usually ducks?
I’ve also just been wandering around aimlessly and exploring. People who live here may take it for granted, but most of the year I’m studying in a town that’s basically three streets and a beach, so I’m thoroughly enjoying discovering new places in London. And not only the big attractions, even just the quirky little nooks and crannies of the city. Like this cute, squished house:
You don’t even have to stick to the more glamorous parts of London. I went for a random wander this morning just for the hell of it and found the oldest house in east London, built in 1535 for Henry VIII’s first secretary of state:
I’ve visited weird people:
I’ve had fun at the Science Museum Lates:
I’ve tracked dinosaurs at Kew Gardens:
I even found Jesus stuck on giant flypaper:
The biggest change living down here is transport. Bikes, buses, overground, the underground. The only subways I’ve seen in Scotland sell greasy sandwiches. I’ve started using the Boris bikes (Barclay’s Cycle Hire) and I think it’s a great system. It’s a bit shit late at night when you can’t find a bloody bike at most stations, but I’d rather be flying along Euston Road on a bike at midnight than sitting bored on a bus. Although in hindsight I probably should have learned more of central London before I decided to go on a late night adventure on a Boris bike. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to learn a city. If I can cycle somewhere, I’ve been doing so. Otherwise I’ve settled for a bus. I’ll be doing my best to avoid going anywhere during the Olympics. Actually, I’m doing something kind of cool for the Olympics, but it’s all hush-hush right now. I’ll definitely share news closer to the date.
I’m doing the annual British 10k next month and using it as an opportunity to raise funds for Scope. I’m running about 4 times a week in preparation for it. I can run the distance no problem, but I want to finish strong and get a good time. I did a 10k last year and it took me 52 minutes. I’m aiming to beat that and I’d love to be less than 50 minutes. I’m used to running along beaches and country roads, now I’m dodging people, pigeons, and nearly getting hit by cars that don’t fucking indicate. I’m also doing a 100km trail walk with friends next year, so to start training for that I’ve been on a loooooong walk for a few hours with a fellow trail walker, doing laps around Hyde Park and practicing our Gollum impressions. Don’t ask. 100km will be tough but hopefully worth it.
The rest of time is spent writing or preparing for events I’ve got coming up. The fact that I’m being paid to write is part of the reason I haven’t been blogging as much recently, as I like to step away from the keyboard for a while after firing out some articles. I also have a couple of magic products to finish, hopefully by August. My plan to also provide some beginners Japanese tuition hasn’t come to much, despite plenty of people taking my details from the flyers I put up. They took them, but never actually contacted me. And yes, I checked I used the right number and email address. If you know anyone in London wanting to learn (even if they have no experience), please give them my details!
I’m doing some talks and other shenanigans while I’m down here. This Tuesday coming I’m talking about incredible reptile facts for Bright Club’s Science Showoff in London. Then on the 3rd of July I’m popping back up to Scotland to do another Science Showoff gig in Edinburgh, having a laugh about scientific classification. I’ll be talking about lucid dreaming a few times too. First, at the Winchester Science Festival on the 21st of July, then again for Oxford Skeptics in the Pub on the 1st of August. I’m also really excited to be speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the second time, as part of Skeptics On The Fringe. It was a blast last year, and I’m really looking forward to everything Edinburgh Skeptics have lined up this year.
So in summary, I’m typing away, spending time with my girlfriend, and
being a tourist getting horrifically lost. I’ve been a bit quiet in respect to blogging, but that will change near the end of July when I’m spending more time working on magic material than writing articles.
Oh, and London’s light-pollution sucks.