This last week has been… well. I won’t say the week from Hell as its not all been unpleasant, but it has been frantically frantically busy, and I’ve been existing on far too little sleep for the most part of it. Add to that all the stuff that was going on at home and today, well, last night really, was the first chance I had to sit down and just breathe and be still.

I had – officially – an essay due in on 10th March, on Hammurabi, but given that there was also an essay due in 3 days before on Greek Theatre (which I’ve handed in) the teacher has been flexible about the hand in date for that essay, so I set myself the unofficial hand in date of 17th March, a week later.

All well and dandy except..

Monday also saw the first day of the builders being here. Employed by the housing, its part of the rolling programme of improvements to all their properties that they’re doing over a very long period of time. They ripped out the tiling on day one. Sunday night we had to remove everything from the bathroom and move my crafting cupboard away from the wall cupboard which has the water cock in it. That’s led to a week of things all being in the wrong place. Michiel had to take care of letting them in as I was – of course – at college, learning about the fall of the Roman Republic.

[we’ve been given an unofficial task for that class, on 4th April we have to do a group presentation for the class, in groups of 4, all of us working on different subjects – our group has to cover the Gallic Wars. all well and good, and i understand why, its preparation for Uni where its a common tool but the people in the group aren’t communicating with me. Whether they can’t be arsed to do this or they are just plain ignoring my emails (probably a mix of both), I don’t know. but it makes it difficult and kind of stops me enjoying the classes at the moment, as I’m all tense, waiting for them to show up. which they haven’t, for the last 2 weeks. the one blessing is that its not marked work, so if this continues I shall just have a quiet word with the teacher and explain what has happened, and offer to do it on my own. Which is kind of missing the point, somewhat, but still.]

Monday afternoon I did some final research work for my essay on Hammurabi and packed.

Tuesday we had a class on Archaeological remains – Taphonomy – learning about Star Carr and mesolithic sites in Britain. It was an interesting class but it was split by a pretty useless talk on student finance – she presented it in general terms, and any specific questions she answered with “call student finance england about that”. *sighs*. it meant that the teacher had to rush to finish the rest of the class on Starr Carr, and in fact, we never did really finish it, we ran out of time.  Tuesday afternoon I went to the library at the college and tried to do my essay on Hammurabi. I got so far, but then I had to go – me and my suitcase were off to Leicester to visit the Uni there.

The bus from the college to the station was late, leaving me to run around like a demented chicken, then turned out the train from Manchester to Sheffield was late, so I needn’t have run around like a demented chicken, and even worse, it was rush hour, so we all crammed into the train like sardines. Get to Sheffield and run around like a demented chicken again, looking for my connecting train to Leicester before it leaves. Find a nice seat (finally!) and relax for all of 50 minutes before landing at Leicester at 8.30pm. Get a taxi to the hotel and checked in…

… and suddenly felt terribly lonely.

I hopped online (had my laptop and mobile broadband dongle with me) so I could talk with Michiel, which alleviated some of the loneliness, and then had an early night. 6 am I was up, having a shower, and an early eat-as-much-as-you-like cooked breakfast in the hotel dining room (sausages, beans, scrambled egg, toast, croissants, lots and lots of coffee and orange juice) before I packed up, checked out and headed to the University.

[I should explain at this point that a week before, on 9th March, Michiel and I had visited Lancaster University, one of my other considerations. While they welcomed us and made every effort to provide communication support (as have all the unis, when I requested it), I didn’t feel comfortable at Lancaster. Its a campus uni, out in the countryside, and it reminded me far too much of boarding school for me to ever feel comfortable there. In fact, I spent the whole day feeling slightly ill and it wasn’t until later that I realised why. Its a shame, because I really liked Lancaster (the town) itself, its a lovely market town, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable enough to study there for three years. I had also, in February, visited Manchester Metropolitan University (the old Poly) and was very impressed with them. Our archaeology teacher had also arranged an archaeology day at Manchester University on 8th March, which gave us an insight into what it would be like studying archaeology there, with talks from different professors and doctors on their specialities. One was on Star Carr – very useful! – another was by a man working on Easter Island, and was very very interesting, pointed out that so often people look at monumental structure like the Easter Island statues and ask why? when, really, maybe the question they should be considering is the journey that they would make to get that statue built and from X to Y. I haven’t applied to go to Manchester University, though, so that’s one out of consideration. Still, I’ve been getting a good overview and ability to compare universities out of all these visits.]

Leicester … I got a good feel from. The University is more like Manchester/MMU in the sense that its very close to the main town, but is surrounded by parkland and greenery, so it feels a very pleasant campus to be on. Its small (on the ground, at least, there are several towers at the Uni – the ship, the transformer and the cheesegrater!) – you can walk across it in 10 minutes – and it makes sense, the layout – I was telling the interpreters where to go by lunchtime – unlike Lancaster which was very sprawling and took ages to get anywhere. I liked the course structure – at Lancaster you have to do 2 minor subjects in your first year, which have to be different to the History I want to study. While I could find some subjects I like the look of (creative writing, for example), its a diversion from what I really want to do. Leicester doesn’t faff around with that. But like Lancaster and MMU, the first year is dedicated towards giving the student an overall arching theme of history, along with learning the techniques of being a historian, and then in the second year, you choose a variety of modules that are designed to build your own degree and specialisations. In the third year you do a dissertation and more chosen modules, as well as a special subject. Just about all the history degrees I’ve chosen to apply for are structured in this way as I think its something that would suit me admirably. But, back to Leicester: The student’s union has recently been revamped (take note, MMU!) and is very pleasant to be in and around. The library is wonderful – open 24 hours a day (music to my ears) and apparently the library toilets are so famous they have their own facebook page! There are lots of societies – including a Viking society which sounds SO much fun (Lancaster has an archery society which I would love to do again), dressing up in Viking gear and running around screaming!! The town, like Manchester, is home to two universities (De Montefort being the other) and as such as a very high student population. This is good because it means the student pound is important to the town and there are lots of bargains to be had, as well as rentals around the university. So all in all, Leicester is looking good, although I still have a couple more Unis to visit – the University of East Anglia at Norwich, on 30th March, and possibly one more, possibly on 6th/7th April, but I won’t hear about that one for some time yet.

My day at the University was over and done with by 3pm, and one of my interpreters very kindly gave me a lift back to the station. Unfortunately my train wasn’t until 6.15pm so I found a pub and had a coke, read until it was time to go, via Birmingham New Street, back to Manchester. I finally got home that day just before 10pm. Unpacked, had something to eat, briefly watched NCIS to try to unwind, then hit the sack.

While I was gone, however, the builders had ripped out the bathroom. toilet, sink, bath, they’d all gone. In their place was a new bath, new toilet, new sink, although they were yet, at that point, to do the tiling or fit the shower (they’d done the electrical fittings for the shower – big cable hanging out of the wall). It looked a mess, but they were good in making sure Michiel was happy with it all, but it meant a whole week of Michiel being up at 7am with me and since he still wasn’t getting to bed early, he was existing on around 4 hours of sleep each day. Not good.

Thursday morning I managed to get up and stagger into college. Had a class on the New Kingdom of Egypt (the Amarna Period, Akhenaten n all that), before staggering home and collapsing into bed for an hour. Tried to have a quiet relaxing evening – the builders had finished the tiling and put the shower in – before Friday…

Friday saw us up at 7am, again. The builders were coming to finish the bathroom, put in all the sealant stuff and fit the new floor. Michiel and I had to go to the hospital for me to have a colposcopy, previous pap smears had detected precancerous cells and the hospital wanted me to go there to have them excised with a laser. I was nervous about this – I knew it was going to hurt – and because the builders were coming too Michiel had arranged for Jay to be here to flatsit while we did the hospital visit. It was uncomfortable, very uncomfortable, from the local anaesthetic injected into my cervix through to the laser (and the smell of my burning flesh – they had a TV Screen, so she could see in detail from the scope what my cervix was like, very interesting to begin with but after she started with the laser, I couldn’t watch. I just couldn’t), it was highly unpleasant, but fast – the procedure was done in 10 minutes, which was the one good thing about it. 15 minutes after arriving in the clinic we were on the bus home, and after I got home, I crashed for a couple hours, sleeping off the worst of the pain and recovering some from the horrible week. Not really a moment to myself, not a moment to think, always someone needing something. I’ve not had a week like that for a long time and I hope i don’t have one again for a long long time! There’s not a lot of pain at the moment, some pain, which I’m knocking back painkillers for but I’m not worried. They said to allow a weeks’ healing time from the procedure, some people have to take a week off work, but I’m not doing that. I don’t have the time to do that!

On the plus side… the bathroom is now done and looks great. And we have a shower!

On the negative side… I still haven’t finished the Hammurabi Essay. *sighs*. but I aim to get it finished this weekend, and handed in on Monday. We’ve definitely no class on Tuesday (the moderator is visiting the college so the head teacher has made an executive decision to cancel classes to get the paperwork straight) and very probably no class on Thursday either, which is good, as it frees up almost an entire week for me to get some work done.

On 29th March, an essay on Roman Britain (on Wroxeter) is due in. Later that day I travel to Norwich, in a five hour train ride, for the visit day on 30th March, then home later that day. That will be tiring, although, since its a single train journey (no changes) I am hoping it will be less tiring than the trip to Leicester.

On 4th April we have this presentation on the Gallic Wars. *sighs*.

On 6th/7th April I may have this other University visit.

On 11th April I have an exam, on 4th Century Greece.

On 14th April we break for 3 weeks for Easter.

Thank god, is all I can say.