I can’t remember the first time I used the internet, but it would have been at some point in 1998 or 1999 on dial-up. In those early days in my early teens, almost everyone I conversed with online used an alias, be they a friend from school or a stranger on Napster or LimeWire. It was seen as entirely normal to mask your identity online and to hide behind an alias for better or for worse. I didn’t publicly share my age, my location, my gender or any of my other personal attributes, because the early days of the internet were marked by distrust. It was a different way of thinking back then. So much has changed over the course of the last fifteen to twenty years.
On Sunday 6th March 2011, I stood on the end of the wooden pier in Sopot,
northern Poland, and looked out over the ice covered Bay of Gdańsk.
I was on the second of what would be many research trips to the Tricity for my
PhD, and I was feeling quite lonely. I didn’t speak anywhere near enough
Polish, having spent the previous year in formal Russian for Social Science lessons*
rather than Polish, and although I had been introduced to a wonderful team at
the University of Gdańsk who helped me to
make contact with my research participants and conduct interviews out in the
tiny villages surrounding Lake Żarnowiec, I was
feeling pretty lost.
At the start of winter I hoped for snow and for the first time in five years it came. I love snow, as it covers the detritus of a big city in mid-winter and makes the world seem brighter and more inviting. Winter in the UK is usually mild, grey and damp. It stretches on for what feels like eternity, and is more of an endurance than a pleasure. Winter is the season I dread, but snow breaks up the monotony and makes it seem more interesting.
Over half term Ed and I spent a few days in the English Lake District, staying in Keswick and going walking on the fells. As it was the school holidays the towns and villages were really busy, but one morning we got up early and walked down to Derwentwater for sunrise to enjoy the lake before it got too crowded, and to take photos of the boats.
For our wedding anniversary this year we walked the Brecon Horseshoe. The weather wasn’t good so, although it didn’t rain, there was no view as we were up in the clouds the whole time. We walked the route anti-clockwise, but skipped out Fan-y-Big as we’d been up it in the spring. I’d love to go back when the weather is better and do the walk again in good conditions. It’s supposed to be really picturesque.