Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Away at home

Today I hosted an awayday once again. An awayday, as I learned exactly three years ago, is a whole-day meeting with a particular group or research team, removed from the regular environment, preferably to a ambient place with good food. Three years ago, before I was formally hired, I attended an awayday with my future academic group, getting to know the people and learning the ways and the jargon. The meeting was at a colleague's place, with everybody bringing a dish to share. A year later, when the group was discussing the imminent awayday, somehow everybody looked at me. We had just bought the house and had a housewarming party, so everybody knew I had room for twenty people. I had no other way than to agree. To be professional, I borrowed a flip chart and a projector from the Faculty. No problem with the projector, but the d-d flip chart was heavy! Last year we had not spent all our money and could afford a proper awayday at Madingley Hall which is a posh conference centre where you really feel away from the everyday.

This year we have successfully used up our budget and couldn't go to Madingley or anything extravagant, and at the meeting when we planned the awayday everybody looked at me. I said I would do it, but could we please use catering. It is a bit too much to be a hostess and chair a meeting at the same time. You get torn between the projector and the coffee pot. Everybody seemed to have agreed, but in some mysterious way it still ended up with everybody bringing a dish, which of course was much better than any catering can provide. I borrowed a projector, but skipped the flip chart.

The thing is that while everybody enjoyed the awayday, I wasn't away. I was at home.

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