Always looking for animals

Sam, Katy, and Noggs in Africa

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Sailing through the PhD seas

So maybe (just maybe maybe) I was a bit judgemental, bitter and negative about PhDs. And maybe (just maybe maybe) I was wrong…and therefore Sam, my delightful and intelligent doctor husband, was right. They are not that bad and they are in fact worth donating years of your life to. They can even be pretty darn enjoyable.

I think PhDs might be like birthdays. They age you. Ha just kidding. More like if you get all hyped up and excited about birthdays and all the amazing gifts you’re going to get and all the people who are going to come to your party, then you often end up disappointed. But if you’re not that fussed and honestly mean if when you say ‘you don’t have to get me a present’ (by the way to the men out there, no woman has ever said this and meant it) then you are generally pleasantly surprised by how it turns out. My PhD expectations were pretty rock bottom and therefore the whole experience has been kickass.

So this blog is about the good things about PhD life since it seems like most people share the opposite opinions. Go to for examples.


But thus far my PhD has been the following:

1. interesting

2. liberating

3. challenging

4. enjoyable

Not quite convinced I’ll feel the same come writing up time but so far so good.

If I didn’t do a PhD I wouldn’t have done this or this

I wouldn’t have seen this

I wouldn’t have been in a helicopter (which we’re doing again next week too!)


And I would never have collared four different brown hyaenas


So far I have met and interviewed 103 people who all have completely different ways of life than me who I would never have otherwise met. I have learnt about cultures, languages and customs that have shocked and fascinated me. This week I learnt about the mirrors that white people gave black people to look into and then stole all their cows hence the decline in the importance of livestock, and about the official printed warning on traditional beer not to drink and sleep in the roads because leopards will eat you. It’s been an education of a bizarre unexpected sort.

I have had the freedom to read what I’m interested in, make my own decisions and be the queen of my organisational universe. Just in case you were wondering, my organisational universe is a beautiful, beautiful place. 

So I guess this is the blog post I will want to read when I am in the depth of despair writing up my PhD and pulling my hair out or just watching it turn grey from stress. But for now, fieldwork is good. Life is good. My supervisors are great and my MIA hyaenas will hopefully be less missing next week when we fly about looking for them again. So send me a link to this post when the big bad writing up storm whacks my little academic boat against rocky shores…but until then happy sailing.


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Cape Town. Kaapstad. The Mother City. Tavern of the Seas. Home of Batman. Maybe. 

Our friend Kyle went home near Cape Town for Christmas, and we visited his ass over new year. We left behind the rain of Limpopo and set off on a 28 hour bus journey in search of sea, food and seafood. Plus: penguins!

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Katy got through a LOT of professor Layton on the bus.


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Bu when we arrived we were rewarded with sun and free wine tasting! The place is chocka with vineyards, and most of them offer as much free wine as you like in the hope that you buy a bottle to take home. 


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Next up: penguins! Penguins that kick the ass of other penguin species because 1: they used to be called jackass penguins; 2: they hang out on the beach in the sun, none of this polar ice bullshit; 3: they have to contend with leopards and other badass african fauna. Respect.


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On New Years Day we hit the beach! It was a bit warmer than attempting this in England at this time of year! 


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No trip to Cape Town is complete without climbing Table Mountain. Or taking the cable car up if you are lazy. Sam’s flip flops conked it at the peak, so he had to affect a zombie style gait dragging his foot around until we made it to the Waterfront. 


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…where we gorged on seafood. Better than Ocean Basket! 


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We had a night on the lash at a bar that had 119 different beers (Sam died and went to beer heaven) and cured the hangover by visiting the local food market at the Old Biscuit Mill. A few legendary pies, gyoza, ribs, and a bit of sushi later, and we were ready to face the bus ride home. But we will be back Cape Town. We’re not done with you yet!