Hello everyone! So, another week has passed and my time here is flying by. I still cannot quite believe that I have only been here for two weeks as I have done so much already, both at UCT and also in my spare time.
I am sure you will all be glad to know that I have actually started the proper dirty work this week, and I can now see why coal miners are always depicted as being covered in coal dust as it does seem to go everywhere! I have now started lab work properly along with my lab partner Emma, and have been undertaking froth flotation experiments to determine which is the most successful and efficient method for desulphurisation of coal, specifically a South African coal from the North East of the country in the Waterberg region.
This stage is virtually complete and then we will move onto coal from another coalfield in a different area of the country, which is of a different composition. The aim is to see if the composition of the coal will affect the amount of desulphurisation when using different chemical collectors.
Apart from this, we have also been preparing samples to send off to another lab to determine the composition of each coal type. We are also in the process of manufacturing blocks to analyse the coal samples under the microscope, which will be very different to the ‘normal’ microscope work using rock sections that I am used to.
Now that I have shown you that I am actually working hard out here, I can talk about what else I’ve been up to, including attending an ice hockey match – a new experience for all of us working out here, but very exciting! The most notable feature of this week has been the glorious weather – clear blue skies and sun all week. I would be happy with this weather during a British Summer, but it’s meant to be winter here. This explains photos of me in shorts at the weekend, as it really was that nice!
On Saturday, a lady at the university called Mymoena was incredibly kind and took us all out for a day trip to the Cape Peninsula, which is to the southwest of the city. We drove around the eastern side of the peninsula in the morning following the coastline around False Bay where we stopped in Fish Hoek, a very picturesque town, for a quick paddle in the chilly ocean water at the beach before continuing along the coast towards Cape Point.
The National Park contains a variety of animals from zebra (which are rare so unfortunately we didn’t see any!) to ostrich (we saw four of these) and also smaller animals such as dassies, which are large guinea pig-like animals that live throughout the Table Mountain range.
We drove through the National Park, which is stunning due to the remote and exposed nature of the Peninsula, where the nearest land to the South is Antarctica. Cape Point also roughly marks the boundary between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern point in Africa.
On Sunday, I visited some family that I have in the city. The last time I was here was almost exactly a decade ago so despite seeing them since in the UK, it was great to be visiting them in a sunny Cape Town once again.
So I think that is enough of me making everyone jealous… especially back in the UK where I have heard that the typical summer weather has started with torrential rain! I hope that you are all enjoying what I have to say so far – leave a message if you want me to talk about anything in particular. I still have seven weeks left, so plenty more time to explore… I’ll be back soon with lots more stories.
Cheers for now,