A visit to Cork

10 04 2011

Last week, I made my first 3-day visit to Cork, as part of the ENVIRON 2011 colloquium organised by ESAI (Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland). You can find more details about the conference itself on my research blog, but this is a short account of what we got up to. On Wednesday Ann-Marie came to pick myself and David up to start our 3.5hour (or so) trek to Cork. Zahra and Ali (Zahra’s husband who was joining us for the trip but not the conference) were coming down with Ross later on in the day.

The drive down was beautiful. I got to see the Curragh again and loads and loads of sheep, cows and even horses grazing to their life’s content on the side of the road. We stopped for some tea/brunch on the way and then continued on our way to Cork. We made it to UCC and found our way to where the workshop was going to be held. After that we met with Ross et al and made our way to our hotel: The River Lee Hotel. Let’s say we were impressed 🙂 We settled into our room (after some musical chairs…cos Zahra and Ali’s booking did not go through it seems, but all was sorted out eventually).

View from the Hotel Lift

View from the Hotel Lift

Then it was back to UCC for a wine reception (I had more cheese etc than wine, cos I only had a sandwich all day that day) and the opening talk. However we were still famished and so back at the hotel we found the last restaurant open and had dinner. I had a Chicken Ciabatta, for which my expectations were not that high…but alas, I was  mistaken MMMMMMM 🙂 By now it was getting late so off to sleep we went.

Cork University...a taster

Cork University...a taster

The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. I am so glad I asked for hot chocolate rather than coffee and tea as was being offerred, as I got the most delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows 🙂 We went up to UCC to start the day of presentations. I also had to give a 1 minute presentation on my poster, which I think went well enough. It also generated quite some interest during the poster sessions. After the long day at presentations, we went back to the hotel and decided to go for a swim at the hotel pool. Swimming is an overstatement, but we did enjoy the sauna, jacuzzi etc 🙂 We then quickly changed and proceeded down to the Wine reception and conference dinner, which were being held within the same hotel.

Dinner was really delicious. We had a choice of 2 options for each course, and although everything was good, I believe I made the right choice everytime. I had duck starter, lamb main and the most delicious chocolate brownie for dessert. I simply could not move afterwards, but alas off we had to go. The organisers had organised a Casino night for us. It was set up in one of the meeting rooms at the hotel, and we all got chips and we got to play blackjack and roulette. It was really interesting and fun to start with, however due my attention span being that of a fly I quickly got bored and therefore I wandered around a bit and chatted. However I really liked the idea and got chatting to some people I would not have gotten to otherwise.

Casino Night

Casino Night

After the casino night we had a DJ playing songs in the same place. Most people made their way out at this point, but our lab and another group of people held the fort up. Included in this group was a guy I thought was Italian, and Ross thought was Greek (and on retrospect he looked more Greek than Italian). But it was not to be. When we asked him…he was from Galway…Galway!!!!!???!!! Oh well, we had a good laugh over it. We were the last people on the dancefloor until the basically stopped the music (I also got the Venga boys as a song, when I requested a classic 90s song haha – can still remember the words weeee). By this time we were knackered, and went up to sleep.

The next morning, no particularly relevant sessions were being held in the morning, so after breakfast Ross and I went for a short walk around Cork city. It looks interesting enough, but the fact that I was really really tired and most places were still closed, I feel I should go back to see Cork again 🙂 We went back to the conference after our walk and attended some other presentations until lunch, when the closing session was held and then started our drive back to Dublin.

The ever gracious Ann-Marie offered to stop at the Rock of Cashel on the way back, and it was magnificent. We went through the complex and watched a short movie on the place. It is located in a site with breathtaking views and the enormity of the building is really amazing.

View from the Rock of Cashel

View from the Rock of Cashel

Walking up to the Rock of Cashel

Walking up to the Rock of Cashel

The Ruins

The Ruins

Finally, we were back in Dublin, and whilst I was sad that ENVIRON 2011 was over, I was glad to be home and get a good night’s sleep 🙂 Environ 2012 will be in Dublin, so no fancy hotels 😦

Advertisements




Freebies and MORE!

28 01 2011

Today was the DCU School of Biotechnology Research Day. I woke up a bit early to go start my HPLC run and then went over to where the Research Day was to be held, to register and put up my poster, before proceeding to hear the presentations. But more about the actual research day in my research blog probably later on. So where do the freebies come in? Well, as part of the research day a number of suppliers were sponsors and they came with their stands…and more importantly FREEBIES. I never saw such an array of freebies on offer. Apart from the usual mugs, notepads, pens and pencils there were USB pens looking like playmobil toys, travel mugs, clocks, mobile phone holders, calendars, different forms and styles of notepads. All the stationery needs you can imagine and more. My favourite freebie…which I had to ask for myself as it was not actually a freebie I guess…a Sigma Aldrich Chemical Bottle (We buy lots of chemicals from Sigma, who have typical chemical bottles…but instead of having sodium hydroxide, or something of the sort, it says Assorted Swiss chocolates. It has hazard notices on it, and once you open it, it is full of Lindt chocolates…they were there for all participants to take chocolates, but I asked for an empty bottle (I want to use it as a pencil holder) and got a full one instead 🙂 WEEEEEEEE. Another good freebie was a really nice bag from Fisher 🙂 It will certainly be the bag of choice for most of us students to go grocery shopping for some time.

What was good about the Research Day was that we had to go to all the different suppliers, to get a stamp from each supplier (there were 13), which would entitle us to a draw to win €100 or €50. We still do not know who won the draw, due to a gas alarm going off just as the research day ended and the wine reception and prize giving started. We managed to get the wine reception shifted (most people just got out a couple of wine bottles and so on, but the raffle box remained behind). Well what I liked about it was that we had to go meet up with all the suppliers and talk to them. This made for some really good contact making.

Bring on the freebies and the next research day…:)





Belfast!

5 12 2010

Finally, I have sat down to write my blog posts as promised…do not worry…I am not too busy having had a long weekend…it was more a question of wanting to finish the Grey’s anatomy series (which I now did). Well, first up BELFAST! You can read more about the meeting as such on my research blog.

I really enjoyed myself in Belfast. I got to go up by car with Ross and Nora, 2 people from DCU who were going up for the first part of the meeting and we managed to arrive at the hotel successfully (bar a short detour at the beginning, but Oh Well…overall things went well). I have not seen such a big room in a hotel for ages…OK I have only seen such big rooms when I worked in a 5 star hotel in Malta :). I had a big TV, coffee-making facilities and all the stuff you want and 2 big beds :).

However we were hungry when we arrived, so off to dinner we went. Nora had been given the job of looking up places to eat before we left Dublin and she had seen a Thai restaurant place online: Bo Tree. I have not had Thai food, but what the heck…here we go. I must say I was not disappointed. The food was great…even the wine we chose was really delicious (I am not a fan of most wines but I could glug this one down), and the company was really good. My main highlight of the night…my main course:

Bo Tree Special Fried Rice
Special fried rice with king prawns, chicken, beef, pineapple, spring onions and raisins, served in a pineapple.

I was curious to see what this brings with it, and here it is.

Bo Tree Special

Bo Tree Special

I was positively stuffed, but oh was it delicious. After that is was back to the hotel, where we met with two other people from DCU who came to the meeting. I had never seen them before, but they were really nice (and I got some good news from one of them…so who am I to complain 🙂 ).

The next morning we woke up to an Irish bfast (what a change from Fruit ‘n Fibre with milk I usually have) then off to the QUESTOR meeting. I really enjoyed the day, but more about that in my research blog. It did not take long and at about 1:30pm we were free to leave. Ross and Nora’s adventure in Belfast was over, but the other ATWARM people from DCU were coming up, so I messaged Monika and she called as soon as they arrived in Belfast.

We chatted a bit then went down to meet the others for dinner. I  was expecting dinner to be herself, the other ATWARM people and myself. But it seems it was a DCU effort, with my supervisor, their supervisors etc joining (we were a total of 8 haha so not that many people). One of the supervisors is from Belfast so he suggested where we could go, and since it was raining we got a taxi (the perks of being with the higher echelons of society). We went to this gorgeous pub (do not know its name sorry) and had dinner (to be paid from some account somewhere…no complaints).

After dinner it was back to the hotel, where I practiced my presentation for the next day’s meeting and went to sleep. the next day was the big day…my first PhD presentation, and also we got to meet the other ATWARM students.

Fellows Group

Fellows Group

Overall the day went really well…the people are really nice, my presentation went well (overall), got to discuss my project with some people etc. Then it was time to go back home. I got the train down with the Scientist in charge of the project at DCU. The train ride was interesting to say the least…with wrong stops, bowel movements and lots of discussions about everything (including my project…it was good to get the perspective of someone else).

Alas, back in Dublin we were and I made my way home to unpack, and repack to start the next part of my trip!