Outside of physics, I have a great number of hobbies. Here are few of my particular favourites.
I have a great interest in music, both listening and playing. I enjoy an eclectic variety of genres, from classical to rock to folk. I first learned to play the piano to a fairly low level before picking up the electric guitar at the age of 13. In particular I played in a Zakk Wylde's Pride and Glory-esque
band and played bass at the Britsh Blues Festival for the Alex McKown Band
During university, my band playing slowed down a bit and I spent some time improving my guitar technique and playing music by artists such as Guthrie Govan
As a fun side project to the serious guitar playing I was doing at the start of my PhD, I began playing the ukulele (and the banjo a tiny bit). This yearning to learn a new instrument and just enjoy playing it for its simplicity was instigated by my wife, Becky Kennedy.
In August 2014, I discovered Bellowhead
. This really unlocked a whole new genre of music for me. So much so that by spring 2015 I had acquired a bouzouki and by the summer begun playing in an upbeat folk band with two collegues, Ciaran O'Hare
and Martha Tabor on guitar and fiddle respectively. Martha left in September 2015 and Finlay Noble Chamings
took over the job of fiddling.
At the end of November 2015 I began playing the melodeon. This is a very entertaining instrument, both to play and in the sound it creates. After five months of learning I began an ambitious (and maybe not wholly successful) project to learn and/or play and record a melodeon song a day for every day in May. The results of this can be found on Soundcloud
. I can now use these tunes, quickly learned and poorly recorded, as a platform from which to improve my technique and move on musically. Since moving to Paris I have obviously adapted my English melodeon playing to cover a small variety of traditional French accordeon diatonique tunes as well.
I'm also a big fan of classical music: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and other things ending in sky apparently. Although I don't play any classical intruments, I do try and play around with some of my favourite tunes on those that I do play. I can always keep learning a classical instrument as a future challenge.
I'm an avid reader, never not having a book on the go. I'm by no means particularly well-read in a diverse range of books - stick some Terry Pratchett
, Robin Hobb
, J.R.R. Tolkien
or Robert Jordan
in front of me and I'm more than happy. Having said that, I do enjoy reading non-fiction about my other interests: classical history (especially Ancient Greece and Rome); technology (and how it works); folklore; musical instruments...
Since learning French, I've really become enamoured with reading in French - however, I've found it difficult to find the sorts of books that I like in French. For this reason, I've basically been reading through French translations of all my favourite English books. That's still cultured, right?
Throughout my life I have enjoyed making things. When I was about 15 or 16 I designed and built a valve driven amplifier to play guitar through. At university I began designing a range of guitar effects pedals, a wah and overdrive pedal eventually got constructed and ended up on my pedal board.
Although I haven't taken part in any electronics since the end of university I have continued being interested in craft and construction. A little off tangent, in my university days I got interested in making craft ale - which to be honest, tasted more homebrew than craft ale. Next I tried my hand at making chain-maille, designing laser-cut wooden necklaces and I once made a glow-in-the-dark Star Wars cushion cover
for my brother.
With Becky - who as well as being a ukulele maestro and astronomer extraordinaire is an amazing designer and maker (proof can be seen at her Becky, Queen of Frocks
page), was the founder of the Nottingham Etsy Team
, and is now a part of the Petit Paris Etsy Team
where she writes the blog
(in French!)- I began a mug designing and printing shop called Skyline. Although this is on hiatus
whilst we're in Paris, I do try and help out with her creative projects as often as I can, especially if I can aid in the design of her AWESOME Becky, Queen of Frocks astronomical jewellery