In April 2007 I moved to Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. Prior to that I worked at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) which is part of University College London for more than 10 years. MSSL is an old mansion house, which was owned by the Guiness family in the early part of the 20th century, and is located in the Surrey North Downs. Although it does feel like you really are in the middle of no-where, it is only around 12 miles from Guildford, which is a 35 min train journey from Waterloo.
It has been said that MSSL has the 'largest concentration of fruitcakes in the whole of Astronomy'! I couldnt contradict that view. It is, however, a unique place which is very special in many ways. As well as being a research fellow at MSSL for many years, I also did my PhD also at MSSL, working on ROSAT observations of AM Her binaries systems.
However, I did have 2 years away from MSSL, when I did my first post-doc at the Astronomical Institute of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands for 2 years. This was part of the Marie Curie Research scheme. Utrecht is a very nice city, filled with canals, and excellent bars, like the Springhaver, which has 2 small cinemas attached. Luckily I lived just round the corner from it:)
Before moving to deepest darkest Surrey, I did an MSc at the University of St.Andrews in the Astronomy Group. This was a interesting time when the legendary Walter Stibbs had recently retired and the group had just merged with the Physics Department and moved from the Observatory to the main Science campus. Moving back even further in time, I did my first degree at the University of Edinburgh, in the Insitute of Astronomy.
I still have family and friends in Edinburgh and get back every few months. Speaking of family, you can check out the blue Ramsay tartan above. We've also got a red tartan as well! You might wonder where the place with the fine view is on the right. Well thats a view of the Summer Isles, which is in the far north west part of Scotland. I was recently up there marking a my birthday - and very nice it was too!
Luckily I have a life out-side astronomy - you'll be amazed - or saddend - to learn that some astronomers dont! I'm a bit of an opera and music fan. Check out the Operadata base which gives guide for which operas are happening where and when. Although I live in Belfast, I try and get back to London every few months for the opera at Covent Garden or Edinburgh for Scottish Opera. Then every August, the Edinburgh International Festival is a must!