Friday, July 16, 2010


On Wednesday, my friends and I got to dress and parade around Preston, feeling all important and special. We were officially graduates! It's strange to have finished this journey, the three years went by soo fast. But along the way I made some really good friends, and it was awesome to be able to share this day with them (especially you, Alma). Gary, as the official photographer for the day took some brilliant shots, and I'm going to share some of them here (though these are just the untouched, strait out of camera shots - he's so much better than me, it drives me mad). 

So, as is usual for our crew we decided the best thing to do was register, collect our gowns and head to the pub! Gaz caught some cool candid shots:

Here we all are deep in conversation, though knowing us lot it was about the beer we were drinking. 

This is Rebecca, the newest member of our group, but truly I cannot imagine life without her now. She is an amazing person, solid, reliable, loyal and so frikkin funny! She made being stuck in Montana bearable and has been a great champion for me, fighting my corner even against me! lol. 


Then there's Richard, my buddy from the very beginning. I've shared so many trials and tribulations with him. He's sat next to me on the bus when I've been mad and ranting, he's laughed with me, and been a shoulder to cry on. He is quite simply my friend.

Then there's Claire, she's the clown of the group, the one who's always upbeat, who never lets the world get her down. Claire's a fighter, she's loud and unapologetic about who she is and I think this shot is so her (well done Gary)

And of course the group wouldn't be complete without Alma (she managed to avoid Gary's candid shots, but posed beautifully later). She wasn't with us this year and we missed her very much. Alma is the innocent one in the group, Rich and I often delighted in shocking her with our crudeness. She's a passionate person, who loves her friends very much, and I'm privileged to have her as a friend.


And of course, Gary got me too, though I spotted the camera,

I really enjoyed my time at university with these people and sharing the ceremony with them made it perfect.

Guys, wherever life takes us now, we'll always have UCLan! Love you!!! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Photography Misadventure

When I was a little girl I really wanted to do ballet. My parents, perhaps wisely, didn't encourage this desire. I watched the ballerinas on T.V with envy, they were pretty, but most of all they were graceful. This is something I have never been, I have all the grace of a bull! I often walk into things, trip over my own feet and drop things. As a consequence, I am cautious, I don't climb trees, fences, sometimes I even avoid stairs!! However, when I have a camera in my hands that changes. Sometimes in the pursuit of that perfect angle I forget how clumsy I am.

Yesterday was one of those occasions. Gaz and I went out for drive, headed down to North Wales with the cameras in the car. As we drove down the road we both spotted it, the perfect subject for the day. We were on the coast and the path that we followed was beside a small estuary. The tide was out and the river bed/sea bed was pretty much exposed. I looked down the bank, looked at the subject and realised that the perfect shot was five feet down from where I was. Yes, that sand-bank looked a little damp, and possibly slippy, but the shot would be perfect. I slowly stepped down, I got three feet, four feet, and as I tested my footing for that final step, I thought, that's it I've made it!! No. As I took that final step, my foot slipped and I fell flat on my behind, and slid down the bank. It was an action slip, with me desperately holding my camera in the air so it didn't get damaged.

As I finally slid to a stop, I wiped my now muddy hand on my filthy jeans, took my shot and then yelled for Gaz to come and help me get out!

So, do you think the slide was worth it?

I actually took two shots, I couldn't help myself! That ship and those clouds, I mean look at it!!

Now, I would NEVER normally share this shot, but really I think you need to see for yourself before you can understand how messy I got getting those shots.

I can't wait to get the rest of the shots of that ship uploaded to Lightroom. Personally, I think the fall was well worth it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Pow- Wow!!!

Friday, well Friday was the Pow Wow. After another day of really interesting talks and presenting my poster we all got to go to this amazing event.

A Pow Wow is a Native-American dance competition, but it's also so much more. It was increadible to be allowed to witness this cultural tradition. I stood in awe as maybe a hundred people danced into the basketball stadium.

 Men, Women and children in the most amazing outfits!!

I don't know that I can really explain what the experience was like. All I could think was what an honour it was to be witnessing this spectacle. So when they invited the audience to join the dancing I was off, in typical giddy Claire style, dragging everyone else with me. 

We danced with them, then we danced for them. It was so much fun!!

When we left the dance-floor, the competition started. You've never seen real breakdancing until you've seen it done by a Native-American in full regalia.

The skill of those dancers was unbelievable!

When it came time to leave I was disappointed, but also completely fired up and excited. I bounced my way back to the shuttle bus, chattering incessantly about how amazing the Pow Wow had been, what a privilege it was to be there and how it was an experience that I will be telling my great-grandchildren about. It was a truly wonderful insight into another culture, a different way of life and I was deeply moved by the experience.

The Conference

Thursday was the first day of the conference and we all went our separate ways, with some presenting and others going off to different subject talks. Rebecca and I stuck together, being fellow psychology geeks. We heard some really interesting talks, had the opportunity to see how undergraduate research is done in the U.S and the chance to talk to other students with similar research interests. It was fantastic! (in a really lame geeky way, lol).

At the first plenary session of the conference we heard the governor of Montana speak, who was accompanied on stage by his dog!!!!

(However, I wasn't quick enough with the camera to catch the dog, before it hid behind the podium *sigh*)

Then the Mayor of Missoula spoke, he was hilarious!!! Possibly the best speech of the conference.

On the whole it was a very academic day.

So obviously we finished it with a trip to Hooters!!! ;)

Montana!! (From my Journal)

Big Sky doesn't do Montana justice, this is the place of endless sky. Before coming here I didn't get the whole Big Sky thing, I mean the sky is the same size everywhere right? No! Here the sky feels enormous, only broken by the mountains that surround Missoula. The landscape here is truly breathtaking, it makes me wish I was a better photographer because I just can't seem to do it justice. 

The landscape is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, beautiful in a way like nothing I've ever seen. I know that Montana will forever hold a place in my heart, I fell in love here, with this landscape, with this Forever Sky and the laid-back people. I sincerely hope that I get a chance to come back here some day, but if I don't, this landscape is forever burned in my soul. 

Waking up here on the morning after our epic journey, I opened my curtains and saw the mountains for the first time. 

I was so surprised!! Driving in the night before in the darkness, all I had seen was the flatness of the plain Missoula sits on. This surprise led to my FB status "It's amazing what a good nights sleep can do. I woke up this morning and there's mountains!" This became one of the in-jokes of the trip, that I could create mountains by sleeping. ;) 

So, whilst the more athletic of the group went to climb a mountain (or walk the M as the locals call it)

the rest of us headed to the Mall. We did some shopping, then headed into Downtown Missoula. We were taken aback by the cleanliness of the place, and by the ever present backdrop of snow-tipped mountains. 

(This river runs through Missoula, separating the city centre from the University campus, compare this to the Canal in Manchester!!)
Michael turned out to be quite the comedian and what sticks with me most about that day (and the rest of the trip) is the laughter. We spent the day in fits of hysteria, giggling like school children.

Eventually we arrived at the University of Montana campus, which like everything else here is just beautiful. There's squirrels running around in the grass by the paths, They're pretty tame and very cute! This one was even kind enough to pose for my camera.

Our first day ended in a bar, with more laughter and silliness courtesy of Michael. 

Finally a minute to blog!

OMG!!! I have been sooo busy since the trip to Montana. Since the trip ended up being extended thanks to the Icelandic volcano erupting, the run-up to exams was a mad sprint!! So no time to blog.

When exams finished, I thought I'd get some time to myself, but then I'd forgotten all the things that I'd agreed to do. I had a paper to write and a presentation to prepare with my lovely friend Rebecca, I had all the photos to post-process, I had a PhD studentship application to get together (which is much more difficult than it sounds) and the list goes on. Needless to say, I haven't stopped, which is the way I like things.

Anyway, today I decided to have a day off, and catch up with my blog. I'm going to split the posts up, for my sanity, which means several posts today. So sorry to my FB friends, coz it's gonna be annoying I know.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Montana, The trip here

Well I finally found a few minutes to blog about the trip. We set off for Montana at 8.55am On Tuesday, we were all up incredibly early, so when we arrived at Manchester we were all already pretty tired.

The flight down to Heathrow was relatively quick, and once at Heathrow we all began to wake up a little. Here's a few of the guys chillin in the departure lounge.


Then we got a complete stranger (who happened to be American, strange that, in the departure gate for a U.S flight) to take a group shot.

Don't we all look lovely?!

The flight to Denver was LONG. And by the time we were half way through we were all getting really tired. I managed about half an hours sleep, but the plane was just too noisy.

By the time we landed in Denver I was exhausted, back home it was the early hours of the morning, and I'd been up for almost 24 hours. So you can imagine that things got pretty silly. I get really giddy when I'm tired  and this was a whole new level of tired! Rebecca and I were feeding off of eacxh nother and at one point decided that Ludwig was the most hilarious thing in the whole wide world! Not sure why now. 

Anyways, I took some photos in the airport, mainly to try to keep me from feeling so jet-lagged.

Apparently if you're naughty in Denver airport this is what classes as a riot-van! ;)

And I couldn't resist this as a photo-op!

When we finally landed in Missoula I was too tired to even lift my camera, so no pics. We got to the hotel around 28 hours after we left home. And I have never been so grateful for a bed! 


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

OMG! OMG! OMG! and lists.

OMG!!!! There's only a week to go! I'm getting so excited it's unreal. I'm supposed to be studying for my exams but I'm too distracted. There's lists that need to be made.

See I'm a list kinda person. I made a list of things I needed when I went shopping for this trip. Now I need to make a list of things to go in my suitcase. Then there'll be the list of photographs I want to take. Then the list of photos I want to blog. Lists, lists, lists. My whole life is organised by lists.

I've never been the "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" type of person. I need everything to be planned and organised and scheduled well in advanced. I know it drives my friends crazy sometimes, but at least they know I'm always prepared. (I've been told I would have made a wonderful girl-scout).

Of course this need to plan everything is now intruding on my study time, because all I can think about is what needs to be on those lists. Often writing the lists down helps but his time I fear that I'll still not be able to settle. I'm going to be neurotic this week, it's OK though, my family love me anyway. ;)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunset at Entwhistle

OK, so I know that the blog is supposed to be about Psychology, but I have another passion, Photography. And sometimes the tog in me has to come out and play. Like one night last week, when Cas came home from school demanding to go out, and Gaz suggested we go for a walk. There's a resovoir not too far from us called Entwhistle, which is really pretty. So we decided to go there. I grabbed my camera bag with a "I'll only kick myself if I see a shot and haven't got my camera" and off we went. I was soooooo glad I'd grabbed my camera when we got there! The sun was setting and the lake was partly frozen. The light was amazing, the colours were incredible. It was a VERY slow walk, with my boys sighing every time I lifted the camera again. But I think it was worth it! Judge for yourself......

I'm still a bit of a hit and miss photographer, I kinda know how the settings on my camera work and how to compensate for lighting, but sometimes I don't get it right. On this particular night, all of my changes worked! The photography gods were smiling on me, and when I opened these pics in LR a week later I got really excited! Most of these shots are SOOC (Straight out of camera), which for me is a first! I'm a happy little tog this week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Countdown has begun in earnest!

Well the flights are booked, the hotel is booked, the new poster is ready and all the visa waivers etc are in place. Montana here I come!

Of course this means that the pile of work that needs to be done before I go is looking incredibly large and is marked with URGENT!!! It's a flippin' good job that I work well under pressure. I'm getting there with my dissertation though, and the reading at least looks interesting.

In some ways I can't believe my time as an undergrad is almost over, three years has gone so fast. But also, now I think I'm ready for it to be finished. I've got my PhD research idea niggling away at me and I'm eager to get started. I'll be sad to leave UCLan and the friends I've made there, but I'm looking forward to a new beginning.

In the meantime, I still have a couple of adventures left to share with the gang. Montana being the first! :D

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Opportunities keep on knocking

Just had to blog about today, it's proving to be such a great day. I woke up this morning with a nasty cold, and dragged myself out of bed feeling very sorry for myself. But I am sooo glad I did. I got people to fill in my questionnaires for my dissertation, and the exam results were published. I got results that I am proud of and very happy with, and I'm still in line for my first class honours.
On top of that, I spoke to a friend today, who had heard through the "grapevine" that there may be a really cool opportunity in the department. I don't want to say too much 'cause it's not a sure thing yet, but it's damn good to even be able to consider it.
I'm having such a good year so far, I'm going to Montana in April, I'm busy with a research project with two friends of mine, I'm on the editorial board for the University journal, and now another opportunity is possibly coming my way. All the hard work is starting to pay off and I'm feeling really positive.
I don't mean to brag, and hope that I'm not coming across that way, because the truth is, at times I can't really believe all this is happening to ME. I'm actually just really excited, and grateful for everything that is coming my way.
Now all I have to do is find enough time in the day for everything! ;D

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hello Blog-world!

Wow, my first blog post. Finally! I'm Claire (aka - the Psychology Super-computer - according to my beloved). I LOVE psychology and will be dedicating the rest of my working life to the study of human thought and behaviour.

As a side-line I also LOVE photography.......although I'm not as good at this as I am at Psychology.

I'm a busy girl, with lots going on, which is a good thing coz I get bored really easily.

Well that's me. More to follow.......