Tuesday, 24 April 2007

My Bluefin

I was revising my blog one day and i found out that i never wrote anything about the place i spend most of my time at (or more precisely on)...Geco Bluefin.

First let me tell you a bit about what i'm doing here, we're doing seismic exploration, this is in short the exploration of the earth layers looking for potential oil and gas reservoirs, the basic idea is to send sound waves into the earth and analyze the signal reflected and refracted back, the way we actually receive this signal back is via cables with sensors that we lay on the bottom of the sea (although the most traditional way is just to tow them behind the vessel at a certain depth but we're new high-tech you know ) but i only do the acquisition part, so don't ask me about analysis...

The Bluefin is a relatively big 4 story boat + the bridge (for marine illiterates: the driver cabin), with some entertainment facilities, we have a tiny pool, table tennis, a very good gym, sunbed, table soccer, basketball ring, plus loads of books and DVDs. Very good food is served here too, so it's surely not a flotel but it's a very comfy place to stay in.

The life on Bluefin is probably the most important part when you stay onboard for 5 weeks, working for 12 hours in a row every day, 7 days a week, and it's very positive up here, we have loads of different nationalities: Norwegian, English, Russian, Australian, Canadian, Philippino, Nigerian, Ivoryian, Polish, Jordanian (that's me), Chinese, Mexican, Columbian and at the time being Egyptian. The mix is just great and it's really amazing how people who may seem so different get togehter so well, it feels like a big family rather than a camp of employees or something, which gives a great atmosphere and make you feel really comfy with these guys around.

A lot of my friends' eyes turned into complete circles when i told them about my new job, and i got all kind of accusations, comments, and questions: "You are definitely crazy!"..."But that job is so hard, are you sure you can take it?"..."This will lead you to depression"..."5 weeks onboard? and you don't get off at all? that's too long..."..."Aren't you afraid when you're the only girl there?"...Well, it's not that hard, it doesn't lead me to depression, although it's quite normal to get a day or two of it somewhere in the middle of the trip (at this moment, my depression day passed already), 5 weeks are not too long, you don't feel it much when you work 12 hours a day, and i'm surely not afraid of being the only girl, this actually has loads of positive sides too: Everubody is so nice to me...I have a separate cabin...Guys help with the manual work...etc...but at the same time being the only girl kind of draws too much attention to you, you're sort of under a spot light all the time, but you get used to it with time, and it's never THAT bad.

Since i started this job we've been working in the Persian gulf, in UAE and Qatar, so i've been to Abu Dhabi (twice) and to Doha, but my job took me to office in UK (Gatwick!!!) so i've been to London, Brighton and St. Albans (as you probably already know from previous blogs), took me to training in Dubai, UAE, in Aberdeen, Scotland and in Asker, Norway where i had the chance to go around as well, and come up with my blog series Scandinavia and also flew to Paris.

The job may be a bit tough, you stay away from home a lot, you work long shifts for 35 days in a row, you're not allowed to use messengers due to low bandwidth of the connection we have here, and you just have enough free minutes to call the family for 20 minutes a week (that may seem too little but when you have nothing much to talk about being onboard they're enough to hear from them ), but it all pays off when you go out and the sun kisses your face, the beautiful weather refreshes all your senses...when you have great friends like Erik onboard...when you go for a ride in the FRC (fast rescue craft, a small orange boat we use for transferring people and stuff between our vessels here), the breeze in your face, the sea is all around you, groups of birds are flying somewhere, the sight is just fascinating no matter how many times you see it. That's when you pat yourself on the shoulder smiling and knowing that you made the right desicion to come here

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Invading UK 5: Bedford

For some reason whenever i came to think about Bedford, just like Detroit the first thing that comes into mind is cars, especially heavy ones, and going to Bedford i expected an industrial town, with smoky grey skies, dull buildings and boredom...

The reason i went to Bedford in the first place was having a free Sunday with nothing to do, so the choice was sudden without reading about where is a good place to go, the choice also had to be cheap so i don't regret spending the money on a place that turns out to be crap, and had to be close so i don't spend more time on the train than in the place itself, wise thinking , so Bedford came as a natural choice, close, cheap to go there and frequent trains are available to it.

Bedford is situated to the north of London, and the road between London and Bedford is truely beautiful and relaxing, the overlap of green and yellow filled fields is more than gorgeous.

As i got close to Bedford i almost got disappointed, suddenly the simptoms of the industrial city i expected came into sight, chimneys, smoke, steel parts all around...i started regretting going there, getting to the station it started looking better, nice houses, blooming trees all around, and i started walking, for the first 30-40 minutes it seemed like a little empty city with no signs of life (and by life here i mean people enjoying their weekend, shops, pubs, places to go...), then i came to a sign that said "town centre" and i followed that.

The more i walked the more people i started to see, shops, pubs, and so on started to appear, and i found signs of life after all.

The town centre of Bedford is just the same as in any other english town as far as i know, a place with lots of shops, shopping malls and arcades, restaurants, a church and loads of people on weekends. As i didn't expect much more, i tried to do some shopping, the weather is just perfect at this time of year in the southern parts of England, warm, sunny with a cool breeze and all clothes i have with me, are relatively thick winter sweaters from last time i was here, so i really needed a lighter blouse or two to manage my time here, went around, tried some stuff on but didn't like any and continued walking.

That's when i came to the river, River Great Ouse, and that's where my idea about this town started to change...dramatically!

The banks of the river are really nice, with nice houses around, people walking or cycling or just sunbathing there on the grass, rowing is a big thing there too, and i mean BIG thing, competitions are regularly held, a lot of rowers down in the water, people on bicycles encouraging their trainees or sons/daughters, people all around on the banks and numerous pedestrian bridges just enjoying the event, loads of rowing clubs on both banks, open air restaurants and a really happy atmosphere in general, my day became as bright and warm as the sun above me, and i felt really good

Another amazing thing about that town is the huge amount of tulips of all colours. Awesome!

I spent my day walking till my legs started to ache, so i stopped for a nice pizza with a chocolate cake afterwards, then started heading back to the station, but just as i was supposed to turn left, i looked ahead and decided to see what's there, across the bridge that goes over the railway starts a quiet beautiful residential area and by walking more i found out that it's actually the outskirts of Bedford, because i reached to a point where houses became less and less, and then only green fields in sight, all the greenness is one of the few things i love about England. Reaching that point i decided that i've really overwalked Bedford and it was time to go back to Gatwick and get a nice rest, the way back was just as nice with the sun setting down and i felt even greater when i finally reached my room, changed, made myself a cup of tea and had a perfect night sleep