Celebrating success, a visit to Stonehenge...and a stegosaurus

Back in March I had my PhD viva, in which I passed my PhD with minor corrections.  I submitted these corrections at the beginning of July, and last week I got the email I'd been waiting for from the university:

"I am pleased to be able to tell you that the examiners have recommended that you be admitted to the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY of this University.  Official notice to this effect has been sent in hard copy today and a scan of the document is attached."

I admit, I did cry a little bit.  I have worked so hard and waited for so long for this, and now it's here!  I have officially passed, and I am now a doctor.  I had to upload my thesis to the library, and complete a questionnaire about my examination experiences, and that was that!  My certificate (I say certificate, it's a piece of paper with my name on, degree awarded, a signature and a university stamp, I'll get the posh certificate once I graduate) came in the post a couple of days later, and I took it straight to town, changing my title in banks and at the medical centre, then came home and updated every online account I have - loyalty cards, online shopping, magazine subscriptions.  All done!  Graduation will be in January, and I honestly can't wait.

Partly as a celebration, and partly because we just fancied a day trip, earlier this week Ben and I headed to Salisbury to have a wander round, look at the cathedral, and then visit Stonehenge.  I've travelled to many countries around the world, but have seen relatively little of the UK, so I am trying to amend this.  Salisbury and Stonehenge seemed good places to start!

We parked the car and headed first for the cathedral.

Salisbury cathedral is beautiful, especially on a lovely sunny day such as this one.  It's gothic in design, and apparently has the tallest spire in Britain.  There's a suggested donation to go inside, but it's well worth a visit.  I know very little about cathedrals (although I am of course entirely biased and believe Durham cathedral to be the best in the world) but I enjoyed a wander round.  There is an original copy of the Magna Carta from 1215 on display, which is quite impressive - amazing to think of a document surviving for so long!

After the cathedral we headed back into town, Salisbury is quite small, so it was easy to navigate our way around.  There are lots of quaint touristy shops, and lots of tourists, as well as summer schools - people were everywhere!  But it didn't feel too crowded, and away from the cathedral it was quite calm.

After a lovely lunch (toasted goats cheese on ciabatta, sweet onion chutney, toasted walnuts and salad for me, wildboar and chorizo burger for Ben) we headed back to the car park, discovering this dragon on the way outside The Guildhall.  His name is Gilbert and apparently he visits each summer to mark the start of Salisbury in Bloom.  He weighs 1.5 tonnes and is about 8ft tall.  A striking fellow!

I'm glad we left lots of time to drive to Stonehenge: it's only eight miles, but it was slow going, and took us about 40 minutes to get there.  We'd booked our tickets online, and collecting them from the ticket booth was straightforward - I do like being able to jump queues and go straight in to an attraction!

The visitor centre is a good walk away from the stones themselves...in this weather we were very grateful for the option of a shuttlebus!  The shuttlebuses were quick and efficient, we didn't wait more than five minutes for one.  They drop you close to the stones, and from there is a few hundred metres to the stones themselves.  You can't get right up to the stones (well, apparently you can, but only with certain tickets, at certain times of certain days of the year) but there's a roped path winding around the stones with information boards dotted along the route.  As an idea of how far away we were, I had to zoom in to take these photos!

What I really liked about the circular path was how it was big, and spread out, so when you were taking photos it was quite easy to avoid getting other people in the shot.  Obviously this depended on where you were along the path (some stones are more photogenic/popular than others) but I liked the way it all felt.  There are many ideas and theories surrounding Stonehenge which can all be researched online; they're pretty impressive, I'll grant them that!  Also, with the visitor centre being much further away, if you ignored the building work going on (they're dealing with the plot of the old visitor centre closer to the stones, to return the space to its former natural glory) then you do feel quite removed from everything.  I liked it a lot.

The visitor centre had an exhibition (which I was allowed in to see, despite losing my ticket with the entry barcode on) and naturally, a gift shop.  I do love a gift shop (my mum and I have a long-standing tradition of buying a pen whenever we go somewhere) but this gift shop was incredibly over-priced.  A standard, normal, ball point pen was £3.50.  Three pounds fifty! For a pen!  I couldn't justify spending that much, so I'm pleased I bought a Salisbury cathedral pen earlier in the day for about half the price!

As we were heading off, I made it to the toilets before a large coach party arrived - always satisfying when that happens! No queue on the way in, queue of 17 on the way out!

Overall, we had a lovely day out.  Stonehenge is very impressive, and well worth a visit, and Salisbury is a lovely place to potter about.  We saw signs for a few more English Heritage properties along the way, so there are definitely more things to see if you had the time.  

In other news, at the weekend my issue of Simply Crochet magazine arrived.  I haven't got any crochet projects on the go at the moment, I'm still knitting squares using oddments of yarn for KAS, so I eagerly flicked through the magazine for some quick project.  There was a pattern for two amigurumi dinosaurs, a triceratops and a stegosaurus.  I got myself a crochet hook (not the right size, 3.5mm rather than 3mm, just meant my dinosaur was going to be on the larger side), a stitch marker and a ball of yarn, and set to work.

A few hours spent that evening, and a few hours the following morning, resulted in this beauty:

I have to say, I am a little bit in love with him.  Ben has named him Spike, and he is currently sitting on my desk watching me.

Amigurumi doesn't come naturally to me, I prefer crocheting 'flat' rather than 3D objects, especially with all the sewing up needed - those spikes were rather fiddly!  But I am so pleased with the finished result.  Ben's suggested the triceratops would make Spike a good friend, but I think he's going to have to wait until Christmas, when I can face doing another one!

Just checked my emails, and there's one from an online company addressed to 'Dr' confirming my change of title!  Oh yes!  Right, there must be some more places online I've yet to change my details...I'm off to have a look!


Popular Posts