I came back from a crazy work trip to Belfast yesterday, where I was attending the recently reintroduced UK Positron Conference.
It was my first time in Belfast, and Northern Ireland in general, and because it was so close to Christmas, I thought I would share my trip with you all as a Blogmas post!
Please let me know if you’ve been to Belfast before or are from Belfast, I know I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing, if any at all, and I would love to go back one day with more time, and maybe not for work!
I had to wake up at 4am to catch a train to Liverpool street, to get the Stansted Express. Thankfully everything went smoothly and I was there around 6:15am for a 7:50am flight. If any one is travelling from London over the holidays, I would say leave some extra time if you can because even if its just a domestic flight, the security queues are an absolute nightmare!
I landed in Belfast at just past 9am, and was greeted with this corridor out into the street. There were so many adverts of these around the city, I still don’t really know what it is! Although travelling around Christmas time can be crazy, it seemed Belfast hasn’t got it as bad as London, and everything was quite smooth sailing over on this side of the UK.
We stayed at the Ibis Hotel in Queen’s Quarter area of Belfast, and this was a stones throw away from where the conference was hosted, over at Queen’s University. The hotel was comfortable, and the receptionist was super friendly!
The conference was only for 2 days, and started at 11am, for several sessions on the first day. Not going to lie, it was a big struggle for me to stay awake!
One of the things that concerns me as a woman in Physics (and any STEM subject) is the lack of females at these events. I went to a conference earlier this year in Florida, and it was a much larger, international conference. There were 16 women there, in a meeting of almost 200 people. Out of these, many were younger students, with very little Professors and alike. This time round, there were 5 women in a group of around 40, which percentage wise is a lot better!
I’m keen on working to get more girls interested in Physics, and seeing the lack of students coming in to research at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels is concerning for the future of the subject.
Our conference dinner was over at Molly’s Yard, and I would definitely recommend this place for a group meal. I had the salmon to start, followed by steak, and then a brownie with ice cream. The Queen’s quarter was quite a small area, and we were able to walk around to the shops and high street, which was right opposite our hotel.
The next morning, I had to give a 30 minute talk on my research on positron and electron scattering at the conference. I’d love to talk more about it, but I’m not sure how much interest it would generate!
After the conference, we went for a walk through the Belfast Botanical Gardens, and although it was winter, it was still nice to be out and in the sunshine. We were lucky that we had caught a spell of good weather, as the day before had been raining and cold. We didn’t go to the greenhouse, but just strolled through the park instead. Its quite small, and you can walk around it quite quickly, and we were in and out in 15 minutes or so. There is also a statue of Kelvin there, which was really cool!
We stopped off for a quick lunch at Tribal Burger, and the portions were HUGE. I’m not sure if this was just chance or if the portions in Belfast are bigger, but this was the case with dinner the night before as well!
Walking towards the main city centre, this was the only “sightseeing” I could do, and by this time I was completely and utterly exhausted. We walked past the Belfast City Hall, which is a really amazing building, and I wish we had more time and energy to explore the city. We ended up just having a coffee, before catching a bus to the International airpot. I actually had fun at the airport, and bought some Irish Shortbread (didn’t know that was a thing!) before flying back to London.
See you tomorrow! Only 5 more days till Christmas!!
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