Ann Wintle: relations with fellow scientists in the field

Ann Wintle tells stories of climate history fieldwork with colleagues Helen Roberts and Barbara Maher in the 1990s.

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And we were working together with Barbara Maher from Lancaster University because she was interested in the magnetic record as also giving information on past climates. And so we went into the field to look at a number of sections that Chinese colleagues had suggested would deal with a particular timeframe, particular soil formation. Helen and I were taking samples down the section to provide a timeframe. Barbara was using a field magnetic susceptibility meter, a Bartington meter, so she was able to make measurements in the field and then was collecting small cubes to take back to the laboratory in – in Lancaster. There were some great sort of experiences and the three of us got on very, very well. Erm, Barbara would get out her sort of, er, flute – not flute, really a penny whistle kind of thing – ‘cause she normally played the saxophone but it was too heavy to carry into the field. And so when she – when she was wanting to go away and think, you’d hear this musical sound coming from over - you know, sort of a hedgerow away as she chilled out like that. But yes, I mean, these are shared experiences that – that, you know, will forever bond the three of us. It’s what you do when you go on field trips. You know, you get into a little scrape. You know, nothing ever goes quite as smoothly as you expect. And then you remember, you know, you obviously return home eventually and you all have this shared experience. And I think that’s one of the great things about having fieldwork experience, or experiences, as well as working in the lab. In a lab it’s much more solitary, you get your interaction from your discussion with your colleagues and your students. But some of the fun – fun occasions are what happens when things aren’t quite what you expect them to be and they absolutely never are. Even in America, I mean, there are amusing things like – Helen and I were collecting samples of loess there, from the big loess deposits in Nebraska, and we returned to our motel room in the evening and we were – we’d taken large chunks in the field and then we were cutting them down to pack up to ship home. And we totally changed the colour of the flowerbed outside our motel room because of all this loess, which is sort of pale buff coloured, which we’d then sort of scraped off our samples and were now – didn’t know what to do with it. You know, we couldn’t put it in the waste bin or – so we put it out on the garden and then – which was outside our motel room door, and in the morning we came out and realised the flowerbed had originally been black, it was an organic soil and we’d just put this very pale buff coloured stuff all over it. So we go, ‘Ah, I think it’s time we left here. I wonder what they’re going to think when they come in in the morning.’

  • Interviewee Ann Wintle
  • Duration 00:03:08
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 11/11/2011
  • Shelfmark C1379/57
  • Keywords

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