Fun With Fungi

Well, it’s been a busy few months…we are making headway on the Anthropology collections review at the Horniman: the team (we should really think up a cool team name!) has nearly finished reviewing the museum’s accession registers and cross-checking them against the contents of our collections management database, and next month we will be starting on the physical review proper (looking at all the objects and measuring, marking, photographing, etc. as needed). I’m looking forward to it, I love collections work. We’ve also started a Tumblr page, which we’ve been filling with pictures of amazing stuff we’ve found in the registers. You can check it out here: http://in-the-horniman.tumblr.com/, it gets updated regularly with new and brilliant things.

I’ve also been using a break from my Museum Studies course to gain new skills, some museum-related, others not so much. In the ‘not so much’ category falls archery, which I start tomorrow – I’m doing a beginner’s course with a club in London Bridge, and should be able to give Robin Hood a run for his money by Christmas! Or maybe not. More work-related are the field excursions I’ve been on with the London Natural History Society, which I joined in the summer to learn new field skills, and improve my ID skills for a variety of wildlife. And just to have fun – I’ve always been something of a theoretical naturalist, and it’s nice to be out in the field actually observing species in the wild.

Last weekend I went on a fungus forage at Bookham Common. I confess I know next to nothing about mycology, having studied a very small amount in my second year at undergrad, and I was very out of my depth. But the experts on our walk were all very kind about my total lack of knowledge, and very helpful in getting me up to speed. It was a lovely day, for the most part, and only rained a little in the afternoon. We were extremely lucky all round – it’s been a terrbile summer for fungus, having been mostly wet but then turning dry at the end of the summer, and there were fears that we wouldn’t find anything at all. But by the end of the day our list contained well over 100 fungus species, and everyone seemed pleased with the results.

I took a lot of photos (many of which are rather out of focus because the macro on my compact digicam is a bit poor). I’ve tried to identify most of them from the notes I made on the walk, and my shiny new Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. Apologies to any mycologists out there if I’ve got any of them wrong! Corrections are gratefully received.

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Science: Coming to a pub near you

I seem to have volunteered myself to be one of the speakers at a special PubSci event to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day. For those who don’t know (I confess I had to Google her), Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852) worked on Charles Babbage’s early computer, the analytical engine, and wrote an algorithm designed to be processed by a computer – widely considered to be the world’s first computer program. In her honour, Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the contribution of women to science, maths, engineering and technology (STEM). The good people behind Science in the Pub are hosting an evening of feminine geekery on 16th October in the upstairs room at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, which will feature a number of women talking about their careers and scientific heroines (it may also feature beer – this is optional). I’ll be contributing a short talk about women in palaeontology. If you like science, or beer, come along! It should be a fun night.