Archive for September, 2009

Almost Dr. Hanneke :)

I passed my viva (PhD defense) yesterday!! I was questioned for about 2.5 hours before they asked me to leave the room so they could make their decision. It wasn’t a bad experience, but it was quite tough. Fortunately I got away with minor corrections :) I have 3 months to finish them, but I estimate it’s about a month of fulltime work, so that’s not so bad. This is quite a normal outcome here in the UK, but it does make it a bit of an anticlimax. You come out feeling quite criticised and overwhelmed by how much work you still have to do. It took a while before I was in a festive mood, but in the end I realised that I have a clear list with 16 issues (which are all quite reasonable). Once I have addressed all these issues, I email my examinors and they will check if they approve of the corrections, and that’s IT – then I just have to print and bind it. Doesn’t sound that bad, does it? :)

In the evening we went for drinks and a meal. It was Nem’s birthday as well, and another PhD student had just submitted, so we had plenty of reasons to celebrate! I really enjoyed the evening :) Here’s a photo of me with Karel (on the left) and with birthday girl Nem (on the right).

I had a great time being back at my old university, and seeing my friends here. I lived in Norwich for over 3 years and have so many good memories :) I went for a last walk around the lake and took this photo of the “ziggurat” student accommodation.

I’m flying back to Amsterdam tomorrow and will spend another 2 weeks in the Netherlands.

I would like to thank everybody for their support before (and after) my viva! I got so many emails, text messages, phone calls, blog comments, etc etc, from all over the world (seriously ranging from Brazil and New Zealand to the Arctic… wow!), and it was wonderful to know how many people were thinking of me and wishing me luck :) it means a lot to me!

A Sunday walk with Mare

This afternoon I joined Bart, Kaya and Mare (team Kriebevel) on a walk/geocache hunt through Vijfhuizen. Mare is at a very fun age now, she walks and starts to talk, which is a lot of fun! She also starts dancing as soon as she hears music. Today she was dancing to Boney M – that’s my girl ;) As I know some of you really enjoy pictures of Mare, here are some from today :)

Oslo

I spent two short days in Oslo on my way to the Netherlands, to meet up with Nicole and her boyfriend Patrick, who were visiting Patrick’s sister and her husband who live in Oslo – are you still following me? ;). They live on Bygdøy, the “museum island” which is actually a peninsula. It’s a really nice area, and we went for a little walk to the beach on our first day. It was very windy, with some nice clouds, and we also found this abandoned chair on the beach.

The next day we went to visit Vigeland sculpture park, a large park with a lot of granite and bronze sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. The overall theme of the park is man’s journey from cradle to grave. All sculptures show people in various scenes of life. Some people find the sculptures disturbing, I think mostly because the people in it are naked, but I think that’s missing the point. I found it beautiful and moving, sometimes very realistic, sometimes bizarre… The centre piece of the park is the huge monolith in the middle, surrounded by several granite sculptures. This part of the park has beautiful iron gates.

The photo on the left (below) shows 2 details of the big monolith in the middle. The photo on the right shows several of the sculptures found around the monolith.

Further down there is a large fountain with a bronze sculpture in the middle. Around the bottom of it are square plates showing small scenes. I put some of these together in a collage (photo on the right) – I especially liked the ones with the animals!

From the fountain to the main entrance (we walked the wrong way round ;) ) there are several larger bronze statues, like this girl with crazy hair :). In the other photo Nicole and Patrick are showing off the bikes you can rent all around Oslo.

We spent some time around Akershus fortress, where there are soldiers keeping watch, and lots and lots of cannons on display. The elephant trunk handles on the cannons are quite pretty!

Here is a view of Akershus fortress, and a photo of Patrick and Nicole on the ferry back to Bygdøy – what a nice way to travel!

The next day we went to visit the Fram museum. Fram means forward in Norwegian and this was the name of the ship that Fridtjof Nansen used on his expedition during 1893-1896 where he tried to reach the North Pole by letting the ship drift with the sea ice. He didn’t actually succeed in doing this, but FRAM spent 3 years in the ice and everybody survived the expedition, including Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen who set out on ski’s and with kayaks to try and reach the North Pole but in the end had to overwinter on Frans Joseph Land. I find this one of the most incredible tales in Polar history, and I was very excited to visit the museum where you can actually walk around the ship! Fram was also used for an expedition around the Canadian Arctic with Otto Sverdrup, and in Roald Amundsen’s expedition in 1910-1912 where he was the first person to reach the South Pole. The museum was really interesting, and the ship actually looked quite cosy and comfortable inside, though the beds seem a bit short!

After our visit to the museum, it was time for me to head to the airport to catch my flight to Amsterdam. It was a very short visit to Oslo, but a fun one! I definitely plan to come back and see more :)

I’m now with my family in the Netherlands, it’s great to be back for a while! I’m also preparing for my PhD defense which will take place on Friday… I’m quite scared, but also kind of looking forward to it – or at least to having it out of the way ;) I’m travelling to Norwich on Tuesday already, so I probably won’t update my blog until the end of the week – but hopefully by then I’ll have some good news to share!

Goodbye Tromsø

This morning I flew to Oslo, and I won’t be back in Tromsø until the end of this month. It think it will look quite different by that time! Célia and Gert-Jan came to visit for a couple of days, which was very nice. On Sunday, the weather was warm and sunny, and we took the cable car and then hiked up Fløya. It was great! There were lots of people around, to hike, enjoy the view or pick blueberries. We did all 3 :) Here are some photos – and the last one shows the first signs of autumn: the blueberry bushes have turned a deep red!

I also took this panorama of Tromsø island. Last year, I took a winter version of (almost) the same view :)

I’m now in Oslo with Nicole and Patrick, staying with Patrick’s family. Oslo looks very nice, I’m looking forward to some exploring tomorrow! I’m only here until Friday evening, but I’m sure I’ll have some photos to share soon :)