Back to the Lab, and a Happy Houseguest

I’m very happy to be working at the University of Manchester again. Angie contacted me out of the blue and a week later I was back in the familiar setting of Richard Bardgett and Franciska De Vries’ Soil and Ecosytem Ecology Lab. It’s the busy fieldwork season anyway, and Angie realised a new student was going to need more help than expected with her project, so some funds were found for me to help. Little did she know just how much help she’d need, as a week into my new contract, her research technician handed in her notice!

It’s great to be working among all my friends there again, to be doing science, and to feel I have a defined purpose. The role is very similar to my last one, with root scanning, grinding, C/N parcelling, caring for plants, and collecting root exudates on the cards. The lab also has the added bonus during the current heatwave, that I can go and stand in the cold room when it gets too much!

cold room

When the oppressive, humid heat finally got too much, I escaped into the cold room for a 3 minute break – and I wasn’t the only one with that idea!

In other news, I am cat-sitting for a friend at the moment. She works at the lab too, but is currently in Costa Rica helping out on a student fieldtrip. We’ve had two cats in the past and are all animal lovers, so it wasn’t hard to convince the others to let the cat come to us. I am lucky enough to live in a big house, so even though we can’t let him outside (we live near a main road), kitty has plenty of space to explore. The cats name is Sirius and he is an absolute sweetie pie, and much better behaved than Mango was. He is also a big scaredy cat though, so thus far, he has voluntarily stayed mostly in my bedroom anyway. He tucks himself into tiny spaces, like down the side of my bed next the wall, or on top of some boxes right under the eaves. When he does occasionally venture downstairs, even a tiny noise will startle him and he shoots back to my bedroom. He’s been here for nearly two weeks now, and has another week to go. I will be genuinely sad to give him back, it’s been lovely to have a cat again.


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