Day 1 – 12th July 2010
Sitting in the car on my way to The Royal Meteorological Society, I realised my stomach was full of butterflies as the time of my arrival drew nearer and nearer. Not recognising any of the roads I was driving down, I was curiously looking around hoping to see the place at which I would be spending 5 days of my time. I arrived in Reading slightly later than expected, but following the sat nav. soon got me at the Society. After driving past the front door once, I spotted the building and its bold letters secured to the building spelling out the ‘Royal Meteorological Society’ as a huge grin spread across my face. Jumping out of the car, I nervously knocked on the door not knowing what to expect. Being greeted by Sarah instantly made the atmosphere friendly as she was smiling and welcomed me into the building.
I had a brief introduction and was given my itinary for my 5 days, 1 of which would be spent in London as a rededication ceremony for George James Symons’s grave and Kensal Green Cemetery. I was greatly interested in what I would be doing throughout the week and what the RMetS had in store. After the introduction and a tour of the building, I went up to the meeting room with two other work experience students and former Forecaster Liz, who then showed us how to analyse weather charts. Using various sources such as the BBC and the Met Office she taught us how to tell where the good weather was, where the bad weather was and all that we would need to know about how to forecast the weather from the complicated looking satellite images – which turned out to not be that complicated after all.
I then got to work independently as I created a factsheet about how the climate change situation is affecting gardening in the UK, from all different types of websites I was able to gain a valuable insight in the changes that would have to take place in order for the British gardens to survive. In between working on this fact sheet, a group of us went out for lunch and sat alongside the Canal. After returning, I carried on working on my factsheet which was closely followed by meeting Sue Brown to help with administrative tasks. Although I wasn’t expecting this work, it was highly valuable in the sense that it allowed me to see the variety of work that needs to be done within such a society. Helping with creating badges for a forthcoming event was surprisingly enjoyable, even if it did take a very long time to sort out 59 name tags into alphabetical order and ensure no one was missing.
On the whole, my first day at the Royal Meteorological Society flew by and I enjoyed the 6 and a half hours spent here. I already felt comfortable in the work place and look forward to the week ahead.
Arianna, Matt and Emma
Day 2 – 13th July 2010
Now knowing where my placement was, I was able to find it a lot easier and arrived half an hour earlier (accidentally) at 9.30am completely ready for the day to come. I was welcomed into one of the offices by Rachael and sat down with my laptop ready for my first task of the day. We were asked to find places names in all the major cities in the country that were related to weather and meteorology so that Rachael and Liz could visit on their tour to promote the Weather Club in September/October time. I’m sure this helped to develop my geography skills as I spent a couple of hours using the trusty Google Maps to find street names in various cities that I previously was not sure of the location. After completing this with Matt and Emma, two other work experience students, we then began a factsheet on Cloud types.
Trying to describe and create a simple table of more complex cloud types was quite interesting to say the least, discovering clouds such as the Altocumulus Lenticularis and the Nimbostratus formations. Taking a quick break for lunch turned into an actual mission to avoid all the heavy rain we experienced in our hour, running in and out of shop entrances proved to be quite a task.
After returning from lunch, we worked with Althea about Memberships of the Society. We were shown the database where all the information on each member is stored and the Welcome Packs that are sent out to new members before they begin to receive magazines and regular updates about the society. Althea gave me a cloud chart and an RMetS badge which is usually included in a welcome pack so I’m sure I’ll keep these for years to come. We were shown very old membership books, dating back to the mid 19th century containing all the original member information that is now stored online which was especially impressive. When Althea had finished talking to us about how the membership process works we went back to finish our Cloud Type factsheets before starting the latest diary entry of the week before a very long journey home.
Day 3 – 14th July 2010
Arrived at the office today after an exceptionally long journey in, due to an accident on the M4, but was greeted by Rachael as soon as I rang the doorbell and sat down at a desk where Matt and Emma were already sat. Rachael came in and explained what we would be doing this morning as she and Liz would have to go to a meeting and wouldn’t be available for most of the day. This involved finding out and writing down answers to typical questions that young people ask about the weather, these ‘Ask the Expert’ questions consisted of things such as ‘How do rainbows form?’ and ‘Why do we get thunder and lightning?’ as we had to phrase these answers in such a way that could be easily interpreted by people who had very little meteorology knowledge it was actually fairly difficult but interesting nonetheless as I, myself discovered some new facts about the weather. After completing our set of questions and answers we headed out for lunch.
On our return, we went up to see Sue Brown who asked us to help out with some research that needed doing. This research involved finding universities or alternative venues that had facilities to accommodate more than 450 members of the society for a future event. This was challenging, especially trying to look through each of the Oxford colleges! The three of us came up with a list of options and handed it back to Sue and then began to write out diary accounts of the day.
Day 4 – 15th July 2010
Well, what an interesting day! I caught the train from Winchester into Reading and sat with Emma whilst we waited to meet Kathy at the train station, when we would catch another train to Paddington Station in London. After meeting and boarding our train, we began our journey to Kensal Green Cemetery for the re-dedication ceremony of George James Symons’ grave. Symons was the founder of the British Rainfall Organisation and recently his grave was discovered to be in such poor condition considering his significant contribution to meteorology around the country. There was a kind donation made by the Honister Slate Mine in Cumbria which enabled the graves of Symons and his family to have engraved stones.
At arriving in the cemetery, we met Sue who directed us to our posts for the morning. Matt and I were to watch over Symons’s medals and the book that had been presented to him in 1879 by the Society, which was and is very valuable. Guests began to arrive, taking a vast amount of interest in their surroundings – which didn’t surprise me at all as we were in a beautiful place; the Dissenters Chapel. Many people came over to look at the artefacts displayed on the table before us, asking various questions that we sometimes couldn’t answer but the members were impressed by these nonetheless. Throughout this whole process we met those including Professor Sir Brian Hoskins and Professor Tim Palmer who is soon to take over as President of the Society when Julia Slingo retires. Shortly after the guests arrived it was time for lunch! Buffet lunch was available for everyone, and seemed to go down pretty well as everyone looked satisfied. Paul then began to talk to the guests about the event as Emma and I packed up the medals and Symons’s book and locked them away for safe keeping.
We then left the chapel and had a few photographs outside which is where I attempted to hide behind the crowd but was soon dragged to the front with Emma as we held the wreathes that would be placed on the graves. Making our way towards the grave side we passed many run down stones that surely deserved renovation but simply have no one to do this, along with very impressive tombstones and graves spotted around the cemetery. Reaching George James Symons’s grave I noticed the black veils over the engraved slate blocks as everyone gathered around the graves in preparation. Speeches began and references were made, along with prayers for Symons, rain and the Society itself and to close the ceremony each member was given the opportunity to place a stone on the graves as a sign of recognition and respect.
Returning to the chapel to begin the council meeting was the next thing on our agenda for the day. We all sat around the long table and were given the sheets of paper that were apparently relevant but I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure about most of the items of the lists. Even though I may not have understood lots of the discussions, I still found them interesting and listened to the different views that were coming across. This lasted a couple of hours with a short tea break in the middle so that people were given the opportunity to relax a little between the eventful day, where i had conversations with various council members of the Society including Dr Curtis Wood who studied in Reading and is now a researcher at the university. I found him quite interesting as I also hope to research meteorology based data in the future and it turns out he went to college about 30 minutes from the college I attend in Hereford. After this short break, we all returned to the main room in the chapel and sat down for the remaining part of the council meeting and discussed more interesting topics that hadn’t yet come up. This meeting finished at about 4pm when a group of us made our way to the Tube station in Kensal Green and then to Paddington to head back to Reading.
Today was by far the most eventful day of my week here at the Royal Meteorological Society and I found it really interesting to see what goes on and the sort of events that take place among members. I met lots of new people, got to travel on even more trains and spent my whole day in a cemetery, which is always good!
Day 5 – 16th July 2010
I turned up at the office at about 9.15am, knowing it was my last day and that I’m sure it would be sad to leave at the end. I entered the building and said good morning to Althea, Rachael and George before taking a seat at the desk and finishing off any work I had yet to complete. Today was mainly about tying up loose ends and just reviewing the week at the RMetS in Reading and finishing the diary entries that we would then send to Rachael to read and then to be published. Later in the morning we did some publishing work with George just to see how things make their way up onto the site and what needs to be done for this to happen.
At the end of the week, looking back at it it has gone really very quickly and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. It’s put a lot of things into perspective and allowed me to see what goes on in such a society as well as gaining more background knowledge about meteorology. This work experience has been quite the experience which I am sure I’ll remember for quite some time and make reference to whenever I feel necessary. A massive thank you goes out to all the staff members at the Society for making me feels welcome and to Rachael Fordham for helping secure my placement!