Once again fate struck and a whole ton of awesome stuff happened over the weekend and before I got a chance to write about it, other stuff happened. And once again I found myself promising to go back and tell the stories and the chance kind of slipped away...
So I'm going to write about it now! Photos to follow as soon as I beg Leia to let me post pictures of her...
So anyway as you may know, Leia is a labmate. She's a masters student working on mice. We have a long history, all starting when we were kids and our parents used to sit inside and chat while a whole troop of kids played nicely outside. Well on one such occasion I was stuck with a bunch of boys (Leia would have been a baby being cooed over inside at this stage) so I had brought my 'My Little Pony' collection out and was constructing a quite scary scenario in the sandpit involving giant horses against little green plastic soldiers. My collection consisted of three ponies, a purple one a yellow one and a blue one. I think I still have them somewhere.
One of the boys took one of my ponies (the blue one) and pulled its tail out! I was devastated as I'm pretty sure it had been on an aquatic adventure at some point and didn't smell nice like the others anymore and so all it really had going for it was its tail. One of the other boys was angry on my behalf and beat up the nasty child (who went on to be head boy of his primary school...). This was Leia's brother. And that is my history with their family!
For the record, Leia's parents are not crazy Star Wars geeks or anything like that, it's not her real name, any more than my real name is "Brother T" even though Luke's been calling me that for years (and I'm still not quite sure why). We renamed her when she arrived in the lab with a giant pair of noise-cancelling headphones that resembled the famous 'Chelsea bun' style made so famous in the first star wars movie. I even labelled her headphones 'Leifyers' when I got an awesome label-maker from the lab cleanup upstairs.
So anyway on Friday evening, while having amazing hot chocolate with the IT guy we decided that I would go with her to her field site on Saturday afternoon so that we could both take out big scary SLRs along and spend some time taking photos.
I had Saturday morning off to help my brother on a photo-shoot which was amazing. The people were very cool, and one of them in particular really made me think about how I see the world. And so on Saturday we went to her site which is basically a field of super-tall grass. We went in search of trees to find that they were all fenced OUT of the property, so we ended up lying on the grass taking photos of power-lines, grass, trees from a distance, blackjacks... it was actually quite fun!
The next morning I went along again, this time with a bundle of geocache information and we caught a mouse which was very exciting and headed off in search of geocaches. This was more for my benefit - I picked up a travel bug on the last excursion with full intent to drop it at the next cache. Problem being we didn't find anything else that day and I haven't been geocaching since. Travel Bugs are pretty expensive and I felt guilty having it sitting on my desk rather than floating around the world having adventures, so I was determined to get rid of the thing!
we found a cache really nearby in a specific tree (it was huge and right in front of it,and when I pointed it out she went "Where? I don't see it? Where?) but it was tiny and so the silly thing didn't fit in it and I had to keep the bug until the next site. After much exploring and not getting
anywhere close we decided to head back, stopping along the way at a place that I used to go to often as a child that a) has a geocache nearby and b) I remembered their meringues as being incredible and wanted to see if they still were.
Anyway, long story short, after accidentally invading a staff village, nearly climbing a fence and ending up falling in a river and making friends with a local dog but not so much with the rather dodgy owner who zoomed off on a creaking KTM (it wasn't in bad shape either, but there are certain people who shouldn't get sport bikes) we ended up quite far from the meringue place at a paintball course!
Leia REALLY needed the bathroom by then. I think she'd been needing to go all day, and we'd had coffee while she disinfected her car by accident which didn't help, so after taking laminated flyers for wooden decking and panelling from a car guard she went in search of a bathroom to find that they were BOTH labelled 'Men Only' and the only alternative was a portaloo. She refused the portaloo option and I didn't really want to go in because there was a bike there that very possibly might have belonged ton someone I didn't want to see while being covered in trapping grime, having a bad hair day and just... I didn't want to handle it on a weekend that had
been pretty good thus far.
So she decided to tough it out and so we went off in search of the elusive geocache. I taught her the best trick of geocaching - the 'walk-with-a-purpose-so-that-nobody-asks-any-questions' trick - and we went on until we realised that we'd have to hop a fence INTO the paintball course. For the record, the course is basically a forest with the odd hay bale tossed in, it looks AWESOME and we have to play there one day! The cache was about 80 metres away, I couldn't see any paintballers and the shots sounded relatively far, so I figured we would run for it. Leia kindly obliged and so we went sprinting through the trees until we got to the spot and couldn't find the thing.
By this stage Leia was jumping up and down and spinning in circles and trying to ignore the sound of rushing water from the river nearby. I didn't want to give up (do I ever?) partly because I'd picked up a SECOND travel bug at the previous site and really wanted to get rid of both of them (I had a reason for taking it)! so I said that we'd do one more sweep and then head back. She gave a tense nod and carried on dancing from foot to foot.
I was almost at giving-up point when I leaned down, poked with my toe and realised that they'd BURIED the thing, so I looked up to say we'd found it to see her walking away very briskly. I figured that as she had mentioned her preference to a bush over a portaloo it might be best to avoid following her and so I put the travelbugs in, grabbed a yoyo and a magic bean thingie and signed off on our visit. In the meantime Leia had very kindly sent me a message to say she was taking the portaloo of horror option and so I headed back to find her trying to shower in waterless hand sanitiser in the parking lot.
For the record, the meringues are still amazing.