Pre-Lockdown Catch Up

April 06, 2020

I'm finding it hard to know what to write and how to start this blog post. It's been a while. I've wanted to get back into regular posting on this wee blog for quite some time, but just never found the time to do it. Apparently all it needed was a world pandemic to keep me off work, and my fingers are quick to find the keyboard once again.

I'm not planning to go into the ins and outs of my thoughts and feelings on the current state of the world - we've had enough of it filling our timelines and news channels, that I don't need to add to the clamour or fill this space with negativity. It's a scary time for everyone, that doesn't need to be said - and while I sit at home, having been laid off from my job, I thought I'd start thinking about some of the positives I've had in my life recently. Because, despite my current feelings of despair and / or fear, I have had some pretty great things happen in the last month.

Sitting in my drafts are blog posts I have pretty much completed and am ready to share. Unfortunately for all the planning I've been doing the last couple of months, most of the posts revolve around travel, with itineraries and tips for visiting one of my favourite places, Italy. I started off last month sharing a trip to the San Gennaro catacombs in the hope to continue sharing places I've visited around Italy. I've decided that I will continue to share those posts - obviously not encouraging folk to travel now, but to fill this page with some colour, and with things to look forward to.  But first, I thought I'd share a wee life catch up for the past month - pre-quarantine and lock down, with some of the good things that keep me grounded.

In my round up of 2019 post, I brought you up-to-date on my past year and left you with me working as a commercial archaeologist, working on a site near St Andrews.

A New Job

One of the biggest changes in the last month, was that I started a new job. While it's still within commercial archaeology, I've now swapped companies with a wee pay rise and the new role of 'site assistant'.  I'm going to be sharing a post soon about what life is like as a commercial archaeologist, so you'll get to know the ins and outs of my daily world soon. This new company had me more settled, I've been mostly working at a site in Edinburgh - you can read about the site in the Edinburgh News here, and if you look closely,  you'll spot me in the photo at the front left or on the photo below, I'm the wee yellow dot working away. This site is particularly cool, as its a Glass Works, from the 1700s, and my first proper taste of urban archaeology (aside from a few weeks on the Edinburgh Tram Extension). The archaeology and finds are much different than anything I've experienced before, but I'm really enjoying it. And I've been tasked with planning much of the site, so I'm getting to perfect my hand at my illustration skills too.

One of the main pros of this job is that it is based in Edinburgh, with a lot less away work. After almost 5 months working away from home, I feel much happier getting to come home to my own bed every night, I can see my sister and eat dinner with her much more, and I can swing round to my boyfriend's / he can come to me mid-week now too.

 image source: Lost Edinburgh Facebook Page

Speaking on a Panel

This month, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and spoke on a panel. You heard that right, wee Em who went bright red whenever her name was called on in class, voluntarily sat on a panel and *actually* spoke. Back at the start of the month, The University of Edinburgh's Arch Soc held an event for 'Women in Heritage', consisting of seminars from some incredibly inspiring women, and a panel discussion. The event was super interesting, and many points were raised - some of which I've experienced myself as a woman working in commercial archaeology, and other points were things I hadn't considered, so it was a hugely informative event for everyone there (and huge props to the Arch Soc team, and specifically Liz who organised and led the event).

I'm not going to lie - I was nervous and stressing for a lot of the time, but I managed to speak up with some (what I thought were) relevant points, and it was great to connect with these women. As an industry, archaeology still has a fair bit to go for equality amongst men and women, but seeing students organise and attend events, like this, and having these important discussions with professionals and academics, does give me hope for things changing.

(image source - @edinarch)

A Trip to Gleneagles

This month, I've managed to spend a fair bit of time with my boyfriend, which has been really nice and welcomed. Typically, we're now not going to see each other for the next 3+ weeks, so its good to have these times to reflect back on. With James's birthday mid-February, and lots of family events for the weekend of and after, I've found myself spending a fair bit of time getting to know his family. One such occasion was a trip to Gleneagles for the weekend. The trip couldn't have come at a better time for me - I'd spent the Friday frozen on site, as a snow storm came and closed everything down. On my arrival that night, James had a bubble bath waiting for me, with a glass of wine and some snacks. It was so thoughtful, and exactly what I was needing. Unfortunately, that weekend James was a little under the weather - I won't go into it, but he wasn't able to leave the house much. We had a very chill weekend, walking round the grounds of the hotel, watching movies in the house and using some of the hotel facilities. I was spoilt rotten with a trip to the spa, and had a full body massage. It left me feeling super relaxed and refreshed, and was just what I needed.

My Great Grandma turned 100

There's not many folk that can say they've got a great grandma, and even fewer who have celebrated their 100th. Unfortunately, her birthday fell through the week, so I couldn't get home to see her on the day, and I made the trip home the weekend just as the NHS and government started to advise us not to visit the elderly, so I still haven't been able to see her yet. My great grandma is an incredible person, with so many stories to share, and always a laugh to give. She's absolutely phenomenal and doing great for her age, still remembering what each of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren are up to. I love her to bits, and it makes me super happy that she was able to celebrate this milestone.

Lewis Capaldi Concert

Starting off my concert season (me and Eleanor had a concert for each month, till this virus has caused 2 already to be postponed and one cancelled) was Lewis Capaldi. I really enjoy Lewis's music, and find him relaxing to pop on, and find him so funny on social media. He was exactly the same on stage as he is on camera - and when we weren't singing along, we were laughing at his jokes.

I was about to say 'and that's it', but I realise, for a month, that that's actually quite a lot. I feel like this month, things had started to get back on track. I had a few wobbles right at the end of the February, while I changed jobs, and planned for the future, but I'm just starting to feel a bit more settled into a routine, and happier with myself and life. It's both frustrating and saddening that corona has had to come and stick its nose in, as I'm now unsure what my job situation will be, I don't have much money to fall back on, and all the exciting things I had planned are now postponed. I know I'm not the only person to be somewhat grieving the loss of all these things. But nonetheless, it's a reality we're all having to face at the moment, and, as much as possible, I'm focussing on these good things that have happened and what's to come in the *hopefully* near future.

I'm looking forward to getting back into sharing things on my blog - I've spent a lot of time building up a new archaeology website (which I'll be doing a formal introduction to soon on this blog), and as well as some travel inspiration for when the lockdown is over, I also thought I'd share some lockdown realness, with recipes, book recommendations etc which are helping me through this time.

Sending my love to everyone,
Stay safe and healthy, keep yourself at home and keep washing those hands.

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