As Beth explained I’m Freyja. A 21 year old, physical geographer from Lancaster University, graduating with a 2:1 next week (eeek!!!). My interest in geography stems from a love of nature and an amazing secondary school geography teacher. I love all things water: lakes, rivers, estuaries … glaciers. So when choosing my third year dissertation topic the Tees Estuary close to home seemed the perfect place to start. This in a roundabout way brings me to soil. My dissertation focused on flow of nutrients in the estuary soils and after extensive reading I found a new interest … soil. Around this time Beth was advertising a research assistant for her PhD and after completing an application form, test blog post and interview, here I am in the Fox and Hounds Pub, Ennerdale Bridge, Lake District in glorious sunshine, writing to you.
My past experiences of field trips have mostly been focused in two weeks away in the last two years. My first was an investigation into how volcanoes and glaciers interact on the south coast of Iceland. Which was a once in a life time experience to get up close and personal with some stunningly beautiful landscapes, my highlight being hiking up a glacier and standing across from Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano which caused all the issues in 2010. My more recent field trip was to the Cantambria region, the beautiful northern most mountainous region of Spain. Here we mapped the flow of water through the karstic system (caves lots of caves). Attached to both trips were essays, exams and stress over grades, but neither trip developed the same skills as needed in field work. The difference (in my opinion) is that in during field work you are stepping into the known; when on a field trip your lecturer, mostly, knows all the answers. Whereas here working with Beth I feel a part of some new discovery which (hopefully) will be beneficial to the farmers of this area.
From these small experiences I can say my expectations of field work, from my dissertation, where it rained, my Iceland trip, where it rained and various other field trips in the UK, field trips equal getting wet . For the first two days I was quite right … Wet Freyja. However wet and cold I was the landscape here can’t be described as anything but gorgeous. The Lake District must be one of the UK’s more beautiful places to work.
Which, as it happens, looks even better in the sunshine, which is what it’s been like for the rest of the week (hallelujah). Either wet or sunny there is something very satisfying in coming in from a hard day’s work in the field knowing that your aching muscles and soggy socks are all aspects of working towards something important.
So that’s all about me and my experiences in the past. Next week I’ll go more into what I’ve done over these past two weeks in the field and try to reflect on how it’s been useful to me as an undergraduate (soon to be post graduate).