The Bath Blues

The Circus, Bath

Royal Crescent, Bath

Queen Square, Bath, as seen outside my hotel bedroom window

Gentrification of Bath

9-12 November Beating myself up in Bath

Three years ago I did a day-long bus tour from London to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath’s Roman Spa. The glimpse of Bath I had then tempted me to return for a few days on this trip.

Rain was predicted for the weekend, so when I arrived in Bath on the Friday afternoon to grey clouds but no precipitation, I set out to take in what I could before the forecasted drenching. I soaked in the architecture and took the usual tourist photos and photos of tourists. It was nice to leave two conferences in two weeks behind me. 

Tourists photographing Royal Crescent

Meeting Andy and a canal in Bristol

The next morning I woke to glorious sunshine, went downstairs for breakfast, and returned to an outlook of rain. My mood was further dampened by gaining access to feedback received for my presentation at the Practical Pedagogies conference. As I said in my post covering that conference, I knew my presentation was flawed, far from my best, mainly from trying to do too much (in the lead-up and in the presentation itself), but the couple of 'disappointing' responses hit hard, sinking my heart and spirit. 

The rain cleared to enable me to walk to the station for my trip to Bristol to meet with Andy Penaluna, one of the first Enterprise Education gurus who chatted with me on Twitter. Andy was originally going to be presenting at the ISBE Conference but it was the one event he gave up in an intense period of commitments. Since I missed meeting him there, I asked that considering I was in Bath for the weekend, would he have any time for me, and I’m so pleased he did. For over two hours we discussed Enterprise Education, my PhD and much more. Taking opportunities was one topic that arose. I may not be terribly entrepreneurial when it comes to making money but I embrace many opportunities. I like to explore new ideas, connect with other people who are passionate about what they do, and do things that make me feel like I have something positive and worthwhile to contribute, such as running PD and participating in TeachMeets. For instance, I took the opportunity to run professional development on a cruise ship because it was an impetus to obtain endorsement from NESA and really, how cool to go on a cruise and not pay for it!  I loved hearing Andy’s stories about opportunities he has undertaken because he thought they would be good to do and possibly make money. He has a brain rich in knowledge and experience that I’d like to keep scooping from. 

My mood was lifted. When I returned to Bath, I finally finished my short post about the ISBE Conference. 

However, overnight the imposter syndrome monster returned, leaving me sleepless for way too long but with blockout curtains was able to make up some time later in the morning. I tried some research for my PhD proposal but the doom and gloom from the negative feedback kept hanging over me.

Remembrance Day in Bath

Outside, army cadets were gathering in the park and I recalled it was Remembrance Day so I gathered jacket and scarf and followed them as they marched up to the War Memorial where a band played and the laying of the wreaths occurred. There were also two services in Bath Abbey but I didn't attend them. Remembering the dead of war is hardly an uplifting occasion, particularly with long silences and sombre music but I was glad I went.

I decided I needed to boost my iron levels so had steak and chips for lunch with a red wine, followed by a good flat white (they do exist outside Australia but hard to find). Still, my mood kept sinking. I was starting to think I was good at nothing, that I needed to quit the PhD, that there was nothing I was good at and could go onto next. And then I began beating myself up for beating myself up. Ridiculous! I think the waiting for MRES results, the negative feedback for the presentation, the feeling of being out of my depth with so many experienced people at the ISBE Conference, being alone in a hotel room, removed from friends and family by distance and time, all those feelings had intensified into a black hole that sucked the strength out of my soul. I’ve been told not to bring my soul to the PhD and this is why. 

So, what did I do to pull myself out of it? I wrote. I wrote my way out (see clip below).

After tweeting my post about the ISBE Conference, Andy challenged to write my own thinking instead of emphasising the voices of others. So I did. And even though it reflects some of the melancholy I was feeling, after posting it, I felt so much better. It reminded me of what drives my research and its purpose.

Tomorrow I leave Bath behind and hopefully the blues as well. Besides, according to Tim Herrera of the New York Times, being in a funk isn’t always bad.


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