Quiet, rolling swells of green, crossed by faint grey lines of ancient limestone walls and dotted by tiny white fluffs of sheep. Softest blue sky, tempered with a golden filter by millions of tiny dust particles. A grouse lets out it’s shrill cry somewhere close by and far off, on the other side of the valley, a postal van winds it’s way slowly through a sleepy chocolate box village, a reminder of the long walk back to the family car and first dibs on the hearty car boot picnic which rewards the first person back…

1 Childhood environments, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Yorkshire, oh do I love Yorkshire!

As you have probably already assumed, I hail from the most fabulous county in the north of England, a product of landscape, and a proud one at that. My parents raised me here, alongside my siblings in a home educating family of 9 (yes, nine, two parents and six younger siblings!). It was in this context that I developed a deep appreciation for natural environments, with much of my childhood spent outside in the beautiful landscapes that surrounded us, and as this appreciation grew so did my inquisitiveness.

Geography rather unsurprisingly emerged as one of my favorite subjects, despite the soaking summer of GCSE coastal fieldwork on the Lleyn Peninsula, or a summer A level project in which I was almost eaten alive by midges while collecting soil and water samples in a small valley catchment out near Keighley Moor. Did these experiences put me off? Quite the opposite, so much so that I am now planning to take those cold, muddy and midge-battling episodes to the extreme by investigating permafrost degradation in a remote part of northwestern Canada for my PhD research.

But how did I get here? Ah, there is another place that I must mention. Can you guess it? Of course you can, it’s Belfast! I came here in 2019 to study my undergraduate degree and have since fallen in love with this place. Queen’s University Belfast has been a fantastic environment in which I have met and been inspired by so many people. It’s so different to Yorkshire, with the red sandstone of the university district being about as geologically different to limestone as the swinging, throaty diphthongs are to the flat, heavy monotones of the Yorkshire accent. But I love it all the same, and am confident that I will continue to find as much inspiration here as I have done in Yorkshire.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to digging deeper into the research body both here and in Aberdeen, and that will probably include you! It is my hope that being part of QUADRAT will be an opportunity to foster a new set of inspirational and formational relationships, and I look forward to seeing where this path leads.

I want to finish with a quote from a particularly inspiring lady, one who was born and raised in many of the same same sights, smells and sounds that I was, and who’s work was very much a product of this landscape. She too was educated in field and at home. But I believe her message is one that is for all of us, and particularly apt for the environment that QUADRAT provides today. I look forward to sharing this inspiration with all involved.

“What you want to ignite in others must first burn inside yourself.” —Charlotte Brontë

2 Bronte Country, West Yorkshire