Tuesday, 14 April 2015

NERC in Nanjing 1

I’m writing this in two parts, the latter retrospectively as I don’t think I have access to my Blog whilst in China. It shows the helter skelter rush for a Chinese visit relating to a NERC-NSFC (National Natural Science Foundation, China) funding call. All very glamorous sounding I’m sure but rather stressful and by my reckoning at least 3 days travel for a day and a half of meetings. Skype anybody?

28th Jan: NERC-NSFC-Newton fund announce an opportunity for funding soil science for joint UK-Chinese collaborative projects. 4 projects to be funding, withh UK teams each getting on average up to c. £750k over three years = 2 postdocs time.

26th Feb: Contacted by Ganlin Zhang, (Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciencs) via Stephen Nortcliff (thanks Stephen) to see if I’m interested in collaborating, of course I am!

6th March: Proposal submitted to deadline - UK lead is Paul Hallett from Aberdeen. Jo Smith and Josie Geris from Aberdeen also on board.

19th March: We hear we’re through the first round and that there will be a workshop in China on 15 – 18 April (it clashes with Chinese soil sessions at EGU where Paul Hallett is involved in various sessions - didn’t anyone at NERC check for clashes?). So I'll have to go to China to represent the UK branch of our group. I'll need a visa but need official invitation letters before I can apply for one. I book my plane tickets on the assumption that I'll get a visa in time.

27th March: I go on holiday to Austria for a week - no news on the invite letter and I need my passport in Austria so I can't apply for a visa yet.

30th March: Official invite letter needed for Chinese visa application arrives – can’t do anything until I get back from holiday and the turn around time for visas is four or five days minimum. It will be tight.

7th April: Back from holiday, passport sent off to agents to get Visa. French air space strikes start – I’m flying out via Paris!

13th April: Passport arrives back from agents. Check status of strike – it looks like another strike starts 16th April, ends 18th April so I should be fine flying out, getting back may be more problematic but I’m flying back via Munich not Paris so I might be OK.

14th April: Taxi is late to pick me up for the train station (why does that always happen?). The carriage I have a reserved seat in (D) isn’t there – there’s a gap between C and E! I eventually find D at the end of the train, must be a new version of the alphabet. Train is now on its way to London. All being well I'll get to Heathrow in good time. I can then catch up on some films on the way to Nanjing, enjoy the food and the company and talk science. More when I get back.....

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