As some of you might be aware, Alice was away last week attending a conference in Strasbourg. Here are some reflections on the trip.
Last week I went on a road trip in France with my father, traveling to Strasbourg in order to attend a conference on Historic Drought in Europe. We drove from my parents house in Herefordshire, catching the ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre and then drove across France to Strasbourg.
The ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre leaves late at night and arrives early in the morning. The outward crossing was quite smooth and uneventful compared to the return journey, which was moderately rough, with breaking waves out at sea.
My car had a very exciting time on the ferry, parked outside on the deck. During the crossing, many car alarms went of simultaneously in response to a gust of wind or wave (despite the leaflet asking us to turn our car alarms off, at least 50% of the drivers had either not read it or not been able/forgotten to turn their alarms off!).
In Strasbourg, and in France generally, the weather was clear and sunny, on the drive towards Strasbourg one of my arms got burnt by sun coming in the open window.
The city of Strasbourg was, as expected, architecturally interesting, with a mix of ‘French’ and ‘German’ architectural styles. We particularly enjoyed visiting the Musée de l’Oevre Notre-Dame du Moyen Age, where some of the sculptures and artworks from the cathedral and elsewhere were on display and much easier to see than if they had been halfway up the side of a large building!
The conference itself was very interesting, and I feel I now have a far better understanding of the context of European scholarship on drought. It was notable that the UK based projects were particularly involved in public engagement, and very interdisciplinary, involving collaboration between different organisations, institutions and researchers working in different field. Elsewhere in Europe, public engagement does not seem to be such an important part of research (instead focussing on influencing policy), and although researchers in many fields are researching drought and environmental concerns, there is less integration, although many people seem excited about the possibilities.
The conference also helped me to confirm that I had been reading along the right lines ‘literature’-wise, and threw up a few additional publications (including some unpublished PhD theses) that might be useful for me to read.
On the last day, we walked across to Germany (just because we could, and my father had never been to Germany before!), so here is a picture taken across the Rhine from the German side, looking towards France.
Overall, I think my trip was a success, and has given me lots of ideas to think about now I am back!