The Importance of a Holiday: New Ideas, New Semester

In the last couple of years I’ve come to understand what my dad meant when he correlated holiday days to a specific loss of income. He’s self-employed and works 7 days a week (my work ethic looks positively lax next to him), so to him, time off costs. This feeling has been passed onto me since I’ve started doing freelance work and initiates a sense of panic if I foresee more than a couple of days when I won’t be able to blog. Last September was the last time I took a full week off and it was beautiful although I forgot how amazing it actually was until last week when I also took time off and went away. I’ll put my hands up, I still did a couple of blogs and tended to emails once or twice, but from my PhD at least, I took time off and had a whole 11 days out of the office.

I went home to Sussex for a couple of days, travelled up to Norfolk to see family for five days, came back down to London to rave at South West Four over the bank holiday weekend and took a day trip to Ipswich on Tuesday. Apart from the fact that I bought an Anthology of Human Geography in Norwich’s Oxfam bookshop, I didn’t think about PhD work at all. I did however think about fashion stuff a lot. My Norfolk reading, travelling up in the back of a 1987 camper van, was the September issue of Elle so I had much time to consider my perennial dilemma of fashion and ethics and I reformulated plans in my head for new projects – how I think we should be shopping. I found a great second-hand clothes shop specialising in kid’s clothes in Sheringham on the North Norfolk coast called Once Upon a Time. Interestingly they made a point about marketing with the slogan ‘choose to recycle’. A little chat with them all fed into my plans . . .

Anyway, I have a PhD to do first! The weeks prior to my holiday were if not stressful, then at least busy; writing my final proposal and trying to get my ethics cleared before people went on holiday in August so that I can start the field work. I’m now 14 months into the PhD and on track for data collection in second year, analysis and write up in third year. Literature review is written up, methodology chapter is coming along nicely; I’m where I want to be. Now I’m back it feels like the start of a new year and everyone is indeed gearing up for the new semester with the new intake of PhD candidates arriving in three weeks’ time. My data collection should start next month, if my ethics is cleared in time. September to January will involve ethnographic observation and interviewing – finally I can get out and start talking to people.

For the new academic year, I want to work consistently and efficiently (who doesn’t). Looking back to last winter there were many days when I just didn’t stop, and my eyes ached for days on end. Eye-whitening drops became my friend. I don’t want to work at weekends, you need that time to switch off. I’m blogging half as much now as I was six months ago, so I should be able to do it in the evenings and still not disrupt PhD time. This is the plan.

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