Brr! I’m sure the middle of September last year was significantly balmier than this. Autumn is seemingly upon us, with an unexpectedly thuggish assault. It’s that time of year when we all start complaining about the nights drawing in and how chilly it is and my mother will insist on pointing out that the trees are turning.
Not being one to wallow in misery, let me point out just a few good things about this season. Hooray for snuggly jumpers, woolly scarves, bright tights and leaf-kicking boots! Hooray for pumpkins and parkin, bonfires and fireworks! And, most important of all, hooray for the new academic year!
Many Freshers are moving into their new homes over the next few weekends to begin their Higher Education. What can they expect to learn?
Firstly, let’s hope they’ll learn about their chosen discipline (let’s take that for granted, anyway). Aside from that, pretty much all courses are designed with plenty of opportunities for students to develop their “employability skills,” about which I will be writing more posts in the future. The most crucial of these turns out to be communication, according to various studies and surveys of employers. This should be no surprise, since this is the underpinning skill that allows everything else to happen. Others that recur frequently in lists are perhaps a little more unexpected. Job adverts and person specifications often include words like determination or dedication, persistence or perseverance, and they may not use these terms but they also really mean grit or guts.
I have seen a great example of this kind of resilience. There’s a spider living in my wing mirror. It’s been there for months, surviving car washes and everything (though perhaps not as many washes as there should have been). Pretty much every day it builds a new web, from the mirror to the window, and although I try to leave it alone sometimes the web gets broken. But does my resident arachnid sulk and take its metaphorical bat home? No! It keeps on trying. I imagine it thinking to itself “crikey, I used to be so good at webs but these days they just keep breaking, what’s going on?” Instead of giving in, it builds a new web, tries again and again. I’ve noticed that it seems to be using different techniques, weaving in extra-strong strands and supporting these with five or six additional anchors at the ends. It’s amazing architecture, really, if a little creepy to an arachnaphobe like me. This is a perfect demonstration of how to get results: if what you’re doing isn’t working, try it another way!
And spare a thought for my other half, thepilotgentleman (TPG), who has also been demonstrating incredible resilience. He’s not the type to give up easily, which undoubtedly helped him become a pilot, but it’s an entirely new kind of venture that shows his mettle now: Adventure Racing. He spent last weekend battling the elements, wheeling and trotting his way southward 90 miles across the hills of Exmoor, camping overnight in a storm, only to follow it up with another 50 miles over Dartmoor the next day, adding paddling to the physical exertions. And all in a good cause. Very proud of him.
Finally, here’s another good thing for the season before I sign off for my week’s holiday. Something I have learned recently is that you can find a lot of good recipes on blogs and here is one for apple cinnamon scones. Very autumnal! If you make them, save one for me.