“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

I am nearing the end of my never-ending summer adventure. I arrived in Carlisle at 4am, 3 hours ago, and have 2 hours to go until the bus to Hawick departs. For the past hour I have been trying to regain the warmth in my toes in a fine establishment you may of heard of, known as McDonalds. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for me to talk about shoes. Recently my walking boots died a very tragic death, I am very attached to said shoes, for I have had them since my Gap Year. They took me all the way from Scotland to Vietnam by land, and then to Sydney. They’ve accompanied me to see the Northern Lights in Tromso, and Astronomy Camps across Europe. More recently they transported me to Canada, where they were repaired mid-Winter, and then they found themselves in Hawaii walking on lava, whence I fixed them once more. It was in Scotland when they finally kicked the bucket. I guess the inevitable has finally happened and I ought to get over it and buy some new boots so that the adventures can continue. I also had a pair of boat shoes which were falling apart but I kept wearing them regardless. Until at a Physics Conference they disappeared and turned up in Denmark. Shoes have been on my mind so much that I had a dream where I lost them, was searching for them in desperation whilst some formidable doom impended, and then Obama appeared, and was entirely unhelpful. I am tried of wearing my flip flops, so I can often be seen walking around bare foot getting strange looks from the locals, yet I still feel far too nostalgic to find any new shoes…

I’ve been back in the UK for three and a half weeks now. At first it was very strange, gradually meeting up with friends here and there in familiar locations doing familiar things. I’ve tremendously enjoyed appreciating cobbled streets, narrow paths, winding roads, and proper British pubs. Also something doesn’t feel quite right because the weather has been good.

Before I knew it I found myself volunteering at said Physics Conference at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I got to meet yet more students from all over the world, although mostly Europeans, attend some thoroughly interesting lectures (my favourite discussed White Holes, which I had never even heard of before) and generally have far too much fun considering that I was volunteering. Then off I went to Doune the Rabbit Hole festival, near Doune, which my Granny had randomly been on holiday to back in the day. Finally I went home to the Borders, which was really strange because the X95 buses have all changed. I made my way straight to Chisholme House, where my Mum was doing a course, and I devoured the tastiest food and enjoyed the most pleasant of companies. Apart from catching up on sleep, I baked 3 carrot cakes, 103 scones, and did a lot of hoovering. Next was a concert at Jodrell Bank, which once had the largest radio telescope in the world when it was first built back in the 50s. I saw both Daughter, and Sigur Ros, two of my favourite bands, amidst Physics outreach and lectures. We made clarinets made out of carrots, we built and launched paper rockets, and had a Physics lecture with a live stream from a Professor in South Africa. Nothing could top this, ever.

Subsequently I travelled to Surrey to stay with my Dad and Granny. I had a blissful time going for walks in the countryside and eating blackberries. I met a friend in London and spent hours at an exquisite photography exhibition by the name of Genesis by a Brazilian named Sebastiao Selgado. Afterwards I went on the windiest road a bus has ever traversed on my way to the Mullard Space Science Laboratory to stay with a friend. I was in the depths of beautiful little villages and roads that were enveloped by lush green trees. Next stop Guildford, to meet another friend and walk some more, to a village named Chilworth, where I devoured some of the tastiest lamb chops and chips ever, with a divine lilikoi cider to wash it down. I went with my Dad to a healing group and experience some Reiki which was great to relax and calm down for brief moment. I also learnt that my courage often overrides my common sense, and as a result my Dad said that now he understands me. (Hi Dad!) After a quick visit to an Aunt, Uncle and a couple of cousins in High Wycombe, I found myself on the overnight Megabus headed back up to Scotland. The coach had to stop a couple of times to get assistance due to a wing mirror malfunction. The solution? Duct tape.

Instead of sitting around and waiting 2 hours for McDonalds to open I decided to explore Carlisle a little. I walked through parks in the dark, at one point I saw a man ahead of me but soon saw that he was zigzagging along and mumbling and was henceforth drunk and harmless. I followed a river to a bridge which I sat under as the sky slowly lightened and the birds started to sing.

In 3 days time I’ll be back in St Andrews, a place I often yearned for whilst I was studying in London. May it be a good final year.

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