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Working & Learning at the University of Edinburgh – Student Ambassador, Geologist, Red Lichtie

Working & Learning at the University of Edinburgh – Student Ambassador, Geologist, Red Lichtie

The blog covers my life at the University of Edinburgh as a geology student, Student Ambassador and as a resident presiding in the Athens of the North. If you want to learn about the amazing geology of Scotland or explore the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde nature of the city, this is the space to chart! I cover poetry, geology seminars, field trips, university life, tourism in Edinburgh and everything Scottish.

Geology Poems from the Here and the Beyond

Why do I write poems?

Poetry helps me explore my inner worlds. It helps me to shift through the different science subjects I have encountered and help me place it within my own philosophy. It is a way for me to process the material I have learnt in lectures, seminars and on the field trips. Poetry gives me a sense of wonder on the subject of geology. I can explain concepts such as deep time, massive volcanic eruptions or the landscape being carved open by glaciers, with the magic of poetry.

Why should geologists explore poetry?

I think poems are a great way to connect with the public and show an artistic side of the science of geology. The poems help a scientist get closer to the public. The poems make subjects accessible for everyone. Instead of presenting the material as dry and STEM focused, poems help to highlight science to a public who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in the modern discoveries of geology.

Down bellow I will publish all the poems I have written down on paper, but I didn’t manage to put into the other blogs. I am republishing all the Fruit Magazine Edinburgh poems as well. I don’t want any of that material to be lost! I am so happy, and thankful for the university, that even after leaving, they are willing to host all my blogs!

A few extra poems for the road:

Church Dedication: St Margaret


The Knights of PalAlba and the Lost Dragons of Time

On the Isle of Skye, a mystery lies,

Not treasure, not man’s secret but true beauty in Nature’s eyes,

On the thin coast, on the broken rock, A story is laid for our flock,

Little prints, that dot the land

Will give you a story detailing a tale spanned, A story that covers the depth of time, Showcases distant creatures in their prime, Were they of God or Evolution foretold?

Hard to tell on the prints behold, The prints are random, yet orderly, Giving our minds quite a frenzy,

Could they be of nature battered by the sea,

Or were they something different in their entirety? Well dear Traveller, believe it or not,

there is a massive tale afoot!

Those prints dancing in the faint sunlight, were left by creatures of great delight.

Once upon a time in the land of Caledonia,  Dragons roamed the land from Gretna Green to Iona, they ate the plants and they ate the meat,

yet they left without the faintest hint. They were big and they were small,

they were creatures that today could not recall. These lizards roamed the land,

eons before man walked in the African sands! To stretch the tale further, I presume,

the creatures of the prints were as big as a hot air balloon.

Their necks stretched far to the skies, like North American pines,

their feet were wide and stubby, leaving prints large and merry.

They roamed the shores in the far past,

when Scotland was home to the tropics at long last. They left their mark on the papyrus of time,

these facts you cannot deny!

You might cry of this being preposterous, a tall tale told to amuse the lot,

A tail perhaps said at an Edinburgh pub, Made up by the folk of Glesgae,

Passed on by fishermen who sail the Tay, coloured by the women of mucklebackit,

to trick wondering men without the faintest hint.

I can assure you the story is true,

with a few lies that need to be separated for the truth. These creatures of the past were not truly lizards,

their appearance might as well be a creation of a wizard, They had long and scally feet,

Yet feathers covered them like roofs of sleet.  They truly did not disappear into the mist of time, now they stay perched on the electric wires high.

These Dragons of the past are our birds of today,

with the wise crow and the cunning woodpecker ruling the day, the owl watches guard,

while a humble hen dreams away the night.

These creatures of our past are so well hidden,

We truly forgot to look the here and then.

A long time ago the brothers in arms, North America and Europe broke apart, they carried the sands and they carried the plates,

Their break was fatal like Abel and Cain’s.

Their descendants have fixed the breach at last,

Uncovering our land’s murky past.

There came a man, a valiant knight,

to find these Dragons of the ancient past. His crest, blessed by St. Andrews,

has the mark of the Dragons, that cannot be recused. He, like the Arthur of old,

lead merry men on paths untold.

The lost land was found by these men of fortune, their work was close to torture.

They hammered the rock and fought the sea, often challenging the tides so deep.

But one with the eyes of keen, noted the breach, allowing them to storm the beach.

Like soldiers of old, fighting tyrants of past, they discovered and guard our heritage long last! They saw the lizard, the mammal and the shark, making their mark on our land.

They followed the footsteps of old,

on the dying sunset, a great truth to behold! They brought us the past from lands lost in time,

story of their efforts have spread across the North Atlantic divide, men of young, and men of old, listened, as their story was gold, their efforts have inspired most.

From the plains of Montana, to the radium city of Ottawa,

from the scorched plains of Australia, to the deep woods of Transylvania.

They lit the candle in the darkness at last, reuniting two lost continents torn appart.

They have past on the torch,

so the ancient knowledge can shine upon the world. Through the battles with the dragons on the trail wide, by crossing the ancient Clyde,

With a hearth of might,

They have found the Holy Grail of the Past!

The Stone Dragon, the Great Protector of Irvine, Guardian of the Beach Park and Watcher on the Hill. It was constructed from the remnants of a disused railway bridge.


The Emperor’s New Peacock

Emperor Wu of Han,

He oversees Han China, just before the 3 Kingdoms,

He is the martial Emperor,

To see the world, he sent out many expeditions,

One towards Europe, to the West,

One towards Siberia, to the North,

And One towards Australia, to the South,


The boat from the seas has returned,


Many oddities,

An animal that jumps high, but kicks low,

A furry animal with a large nose not bothered by any men,

A bird of blue back, that laughs into every conversation,

A swimmer with a bill of a duck and tail of a beaver,

A tall bird that runs fast, yet cannot fly,

But the most interesting of them all,

Is a little spider,

It’s as big as a grain of rice.


Spiders are awful creatures, they hiss, they bite, their claws poison!

Yet this one is different,

Its hide is colour of jade and precious stone,

When the light runs across its body, it dances like a rainbow,

The stripes on its back are burnt orange, like a dying sunset.

Spots on its back paint a starry sky at night,

Truly a creature of another land.


This spider isn’t just beautiful to the eye,

Its mannerisms are pleasant,

As it partakes in a graceful dance,

Legs raised, its abdomen bent towards the sky,

Its movements like the fine touch of silk,

As it bounces up and down on the bonsai tree,

It beats its feet against the branches,

A thousand tunes, little vibrations make enchanted music!


A tasteful creature in the arts,

The spider’s dance like a Jīngjù Opera,

Tragedy, love, adventures afar, it is beauty in every motion!

This little creature tells the tales of a land far apart,

From the deep green jungles to the burnt orange of the desert plains.

Well little creature, feel yourself at home in my palace,

Welcome to the land of the Dragon!


A walk along the Seaton Cliffs

I walk across the cliffs of Angus from the smokie town o’ Arbroath,

Towards the fishing cottages of Auchmithie,

In-between lie mighty cliffs,

Of sandstone and conglomerate adrift.

Great features litter the coast,

Needle E’e, Mermaid’s Kirk, Deil’s Heid and The Sphinx,

With the Masons’ Cave hiding many a secret!

The Sun is sinking, quick, bellow the horizon where the water and the land meet.

The rocks are divided into the two, like the mainland of Caledonia,

The Lower Devonian is blood red, cross bedded sandstone,

With the middle missing, an Unconformity!

The Upper Devonian is all conglomerate,

Trapping many little worlds of stone,

The little clasts contain many a wonder,

From Granites to the odd Metamorphics,

All from mountains as tall as the Himalayas,

Now long gone, carried away by mighty rivers!

Dusk has came as the Sun is gone with the seagulls settling back into their nests.

The cliffs play a testimony to the history of Scotland,

My mind’s eye fill with the spirits of the past,

A Roman, in full armour just walked past, observing the fleet of Agricola as they sail up to Aberdeen.

Suddenly a monk shuffles past, rail lines run into the cliffs, as workmen cut stone for the new Abbey.

King Robert the Bruce, looks out onto the shores, as a boat, with a Declaration leaves for Avignon.

Men with torches rush past me, as down below, blood curling screams, baskets are lowered to haul mariners to safety.

Sir Walter Scott rides past on horseback, as he is seeking the Inn Waverley, at Auchmithie.

In the sky, two Spitfires pursue a Messerschmitt, a kill shot, as the Iron Cross crashes into the fields.

As I walk ahead, a group of young lads carry the Stone of Destiny as they disappear into the mist…

I am alone again on the wide-open coastal path.

The full Moon is up in the sky, reflecting on the tranquil ocean, as it lights my path.

As I head away into the night,

I hear the reverberation of a ghostly sound:

The voice of Andy Stewart, echoing through the cliffs:

“But gin ye permit me, tae gang a wee bit-tie, 

I’d show you the road, and the miles to Dundee…” 

The Heavenly Twins, Assynt and Knockan Crag

I wonder down from thee hills of the Highlands,

Lost up north in the wilderness,

My guide is only a great loch, stretched across the valley,

As I march down to the cottages at the centre,

Next to the ruins of an old Scots clan castle.


The valley, painted blood red orange as I reach the coast of the loch,

The town, no, village, no, a collection of cottages just to my left, the Hamlet of Inchnadamph,

Past the church, the old telephone box, the Commonwealth cemetery, an old hotel.


As I wonder onto the yard, I see a small obelisc on the hill, caught in the last rays of sunshine,

I give it no more thought, I stroll into the lobby: I slump into the sofa in a large reading room for all:

When I notice an old, slightly faded photograph, hanged upon the wall.


On it, sits two man of old, on the photograph from the last century,

For all to behold, their solemn expression tickles me with questions,

The two of them sit there, with their brave Mona Lisa smiles,

With their large overcoats, suits and ties,

Funny to think they might have roamed the mountains!


An old man sitting in the opposite chair,

His beard grey, with a full set of hair,

He is the man of the mountains,

With lots of experience.

He narrates the story as I prompt him with questions:


“These two gentle men, the heavenly twins, who sit upon the bench, with canes in both hands,

They are a man of great fame, of great fortune,

As they uncovered great treasure hidden beneath the lands of the Kelpie,

What they found must have shocked most and lead to a Highland conspiracy!


They were geologists, Peach and Horne,

Came here to answer questions bothering young and old: How was it that old strata laid on the new?

As when we travel down the way, time should be turned back from young to the old grey rock,

Some have seen this in the Alps, so they were out for a shock!


The Moine Thrust cuts this land up towards the sky, as in the past, the rocks moved miles by,

The land through a fault moved a lot of stock,

Schists upon the limestones and the Sandstone of the Old Torridonian,

Even today you can pay a visit to that holy site, you might even find some Mylonite!


They mapped every corner and pasture, from the old folds to the Mull of Kintyre!

Even today the BGS raises their blessed names!

An obelisk like a trusty piper on top of a’mountain keeps their fame!


Just look around the old photograph, it covers all the walls, at the maps, aerial photos and charts!

These mountains tell a great tale, you just need to be more attentive than Murchison or Geikie of the past!

Now if you pour me another glass of whisky,

I tell the tale in greater detail…”

The Friendship of David Balfour and James Hutton

My name is David Balfour you see,

I am the laird of House of Shaws,

Along with Alan Breck I ran the Highland Line,

As pursued by the red coats for the Appin murder,

I was kidnapped to sea,

By my wicked uncle and his fiendish friend, the Captain,

The ship crashed and I was wrecked off the coast of Iona,

Alan gave me a silver button, which was my passage through the Highlands,

Until I came upon great misfortune at Appin,

He saved my neck from the gallows, as we scrambled up into the heather at Kinlochleven,

I and Alan hid on the rocks of Glencoe and jumped the great waterfall,

As the King’s men pursued us like a red fox, the fowl,

We ran up Schiehallion to find the Clan Chief, Cluny Macpherson, in hiding,

We came down from the mountains at Callander,

Then we made the run for the ol’ Stirling Bridge,

Cross we could not, so a fair maiden sailed us across the waters of the Tay,

I managed to reclaim my fortunes in the burgh of Edinburgh,

But this story is neither here or there for the day!


With my fortunes reclaimed,

I married Catriona after a brief stint in France and the Netherlands,

Across the water,

I came to know many figures of the Enlightenment with the strangest of being,

James Hutton himself,

Hutton is a brilliant mind, a breaker of rocks,

Peering into the past,

Opened up an entire new science across the deep time of clocks!

But he is not exactly a fine gentleman…

He is known as an old riotous bastard across Edinburgh,

While his mind is fine,

Peering into the crystals of granite,

He knows his way around the ladies,

And with a drink, he is fast!

He was a while, exiled to the farms of Berwickshire,

For which you should not dare to ask.

While he is famous and infamous across the county,

My friendship with him is special indeed!

Out on a day, with a late boat ride, we managed to discover a now famous site,

A weird contortion of sandstone and sediment of the deep sea,

Siccar Point lying across the bay!


Science and Sensibility

We are sensible people.
We see the world as a round ball of blue.
We see the world as a collection of stories.
We see the world as a collection of struggles amongst the classes.
We see the world as saved and doomed, defiled and honored, holy and wicked.

We see the world in the lens of science,
We split it up like Newton with his prism, the rainbow.
This outlook can be a massive prison as well.
We see the world as a set of calculations:
2 + 2 = 4 or 2 x 2 = 4
A Silica to Carbon cycle equation:
2CO2 + 2H2O + CaSiO3 = CaCO3 + CO2 + 2H2O + SiO2
Maybe a different set of calculations?
2 + 2 = 5? Comrade?
Shouldn’t you be working in a factory to stave away?
Stave away the scheming capitalist?
Don’t you know that a stronger worker can produce 25% more?
More than mathematics?

It is great to be sensible,
To watch out upon the world,
But science can make us all unsensible as well.
When man is just a set of calculation,
Nature is dead.
If nature is dead, God is dead.
But should he be?
Shouldn’t you respect individual humanity?
Ones own destiny? Or is it all just random?
Or is everything just a power struggle?

2 + 2 = 4 is well and good as we can prove it.
But is it true?
What about God and J.C.?
I cannot prove them, yet,
Have you seen men sacrifice, fight, defend?
Ready to be shot for
2 x 2 = 4?
Why would they defend
2 + 2 = 5?
I cannot prove God and J.C.,
пра́вда ≠ и́стина

We are made of cells and that is terrifying

We are made of cells and that is terrifying,
Our entire body tiny little bubbles,
All dependent on the whims of the Cosmos,
Alone, a cell is alive, yet we are a creature whose life is born out of these single lives,
We are lives, within lives, within lives,
Are you terrified yet?

Recently I looked at a photo of SARS-CoV-2 from a SEM microscope,
The virus bursting out of a cell like a Xenomorph from Alien,
The cell walls disintegrating,
As the cell dies, its guts spread all over the tiny land,
Are you terrified yet?

Are these cells intelligent?
Do they even know that they are, there?
Is the virus that torments this creature, then eventually murders it, there?
Is the virus alive?
Did it commit a murder? A murder of a cell?
Are you terrified yet?

Of these little balls of death of burnt orange?

I have stared into the abyss and now I can’t look back!

I have studied the sciences,
Looked into the universe,
I stared at rock of millenia,
Read a story by Aristotle,
Looked into a black hole,
Burnt orange of supernovae,
Looked into a science that has no humanity

Just cells, and particles, maths and atoms,
Where is God in that?

Doctors, doctors make the world go round

I watch the proteins of the virus grapple with the cells,
That is how they enter into the victim, a sneaking hell,
Their little feet, spikes, the corona like a crown around a head of a dying tyrant,
They rudely barge into the cell, so that their RNA can raise the living dead,
A terrifying little process that leaves little space for hope or within the infected cell’s shell.

Yet, we do have a way forward, of a scientist or a doctor,
They transform the world, with the angel wing of enlightenment,
As they cook up medicine that holds back the darkness,
That is how we beat back HIV, the sneaking villain,
With antibodies that cover the cell, denying the virus entry,
They lock up the proteins, tie them up,
Therefore they cannot stick to the surface, keeping a cell healthy,
They stopped the virus at the door,
Like Van Helsing barring Dracula to enter Mina Harker’s humble house a plenty!

It is important to face our enemies,
So fear melts away,
This monster can be tackled and be overcome all the way!

Umbrellas in Timisoara

Twirl and Twist in the wind the Umbrella goes,
Life of it, is mysterious yet hits you right on the nose,
Hanging high above the streets of Transylvania,
Battered by rains brought over from the Sahara.
Colours of great range rock in the gentle wind,
A great pattern that twirls together in a link,
The shades are many like neon-green and citrus-yellow,
The beer gardens underneath keep men merry and mellow.
Crowds stream underneath towards the Old Cathedral,
Stroll away from the squares built by the Habsburg Eagle,
Stepping over the mosques long time past,
Under the tricolour which hangs high and proud on the mast.
The umbrellas shoulder the bright blue sky,
As the sun glares on the old shutters, the shadows run high,
Apparitions of the past dance in the blaze of summer heat,
As ghosts of immemorial come alive on the streets.
Strange figures take confused glances at the umbrellas so high,
Dark silhouettes, memories of the lost, pass by,
From the Hammer and Sickle to the half-moon of Ottoman might,
A Roman soldier’s shield glances in the ray of light.
Boots of black leather march… Eagle of Gold swoops in the distance,
Protestors carry a shattered flag, rush down the street in an instance.
Tanks of the Iron Cross roll down with a great creak, growing, hulking dark beasts on deafening
screaming tracks…
A quick realisation! Time to scramble! it is the clinking of the trams!
Being snapped back in the reality of the now,
These strange acolytes quiet down,
Washing down the past with the beer of Ciuc,
The umbrellas of the rainbow get another look.
An old bookshop sits beneath this bridge of colour,
Tall and majestic, beckoning with the knowledge it has to offer,
In the twilight of the store is easy to catch some returning melancholy,
As the diminishing light dances through the books of the history of agony.
Fierce knocking begins on the windows,
As rain pours down, as plenty as tears of widows.
The drops seep through clothes, one by one,
As the streets quiet down, all the people gone.
Yet light still breaks through the columns of water,
As one rainbow lines up with the other,
The water is warm, cleansing the dirt,
One can sense the sweet smell of the earth.
The umbrellas dance above in the pouring rain,
As something Holy ablutes the world of pain,
The troubled dust of history doesn’t matter soon,
As the day washes away into the happy twilight of the afternoon…


The Universe is Funny

The Universe is funny,

Don’t you believe it?

It exists,

Yet scientists are not sure of it.

The Earth is big yet so tiny in the sky,

The stars above of us certainly shine bright,

Yet it is the brightness of the past,

When the Moon falls and the stars are chased away,

The Dawn has came and it is here to stay.

Its colours dance across the sky, from the strange pink light,

To the burnt orange of sighs as the golden globe herself rises.

Suddenly, the sky is all too blue,

With dancing clouds on the horizon,

White as the apron of the breakfast table,

The green of the grass reflects in the sky blue contrast,

As the lakes bellow the mountain reflect the Royal Blue of the sky,

The day passes us by, with some lunch brought out in hindsight,

As after a refreshing shower, the sunset has come by.

Dusk is upon us with the same burnt orange colour,

The sun saying her goodbyes to us weary travellers.

I wonder into the house as I switch the lights on.

But I change my mind in the last minute, but,

But I still have my dinner.

The jacket is on,

Again to a similar colour of the burnt orange of the dusk.

Lights off, I had out, to an evening walk under the night sky.

The sun is gone, the stars are back,

It is a thing to no one objects,

Far away from the lights of civilization,

The Moon’s light guides my steps,

As I look up on the universe,

Above me the Milkyway beckons,

With the Pillars of Creation reaching into the darkness,

The speckled sky is full of wonder,

As suddenly, my mind wanders:

The men of old, the men of past,

Who thought about the sky,

The great generals, statesmen, artists and singers of Pop,

Were they nothing, like in the Ocean, just a drop?

What were they worth?

Did they matter at all?

I look upon the sky, the mighty sky,

Undisturbed by the man of light.

The might of it just overwhelms me,

As I just blink, and blink at it.

As Carl Sagan once said:

“The Earth is just a blue dot in the night sky,

Embraced by the burnt orange hue of the sun.

We are strange travellers,

Inflicting epic cruelties upon each other,

Oh how I wish we were kinder to one another!”

That slips a wee smile on my face as I remember David Hume:

“The life of man,

Is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.”

But at the same time it gets into conflict with another quote:

“How does it happen,

How do we know,

Who sits and watches

Who does the show?

Some people love to lead

And some refuse to dance.

Some play it safely, other take a chance.

Still it’s all a mystery

This place we call the world

Where most live as oysters

While some become pearls.”

As said by Jimmy Buffett,

It is hard to believe,

This man wrote as much wisdom, as drunk drivel!

To my grate shame, I start humming Margaritaville,

As I wish for a beach house on the Moon.

But time passes, as it is an inevitability.

Its arrow travels forward,

Neither stopping nor reversing.

It is such a shame…

I can feel the chill,

As a gust of wind hits my back,

It plays with the branches and leaves of the dark forest.

How late is it?

An owl hoots into the night,

As I begin to head back.

I walk back on the same path as I approach the lights of humanity.

The sky takes on a lighter colour,

Is it dawn already?

I sit on the roof of my house,

Contemplating past lives,

As I welcome the rising Sun,

I can see, with a spring in his step, the mailman arrive.


Inspired by Carl Sagan, the Scottish Enlightenment, Jimmy Buffett, the Netflix show Bojack Horseman and an evening walk to Arbirlot.

Here you can read the amazing speech given by Carl Sagan on Earth, the Voyager probes and our place in the universe: 

Short geology Poems:

These short poems are straight from field trips, which I noted down into my notebook. They are from year 2 to year 4.

Old Sand

Sand deposited,


So silly,

So silly!

Laid in neat rows,

High in neat rows,

Up on the laird,

High upon clowns,

Clown of time,

Layers of different,

Material and gauge,

Old as some bygone age!

The magic of Stratigraphy,

Calling to me!

To you!

To us!

To everyone!


Old Teeth

Shark teeth,

Shark teeth fall from the sky!

Is the tooth fairy drunk?

Does the Moon?

Fall as moonstones?

Are these things petrified tongue stones?

Lizards and snakes?

The whole lot?

Shark teeth come from the rock.

From Oceans dried up.

Lost in the space of time!

Plates I and II from ‘The Theory of the Earth’ by James Hutton. 1788. Digitised by Google Books.



Humbolt has climbed the Andes!

Humbolt and Hutton!

Hutton has climbed the Highlands!

Shining stars of their generation!

Formulators of Science!

Science of the beyond!


The Old Kingdom

Little Kingdoms of Stone,

Quartz grains,


Smashed together,


Weirdly twisted,


Grown out into jagged edges.



The microscope makes this happen,



The Drunk Geologist

Morning hasn’t started yet,


He stumbled out,

Through the door,

Towards the rising sea,


Or not?

The whisky has been too much!

But he still stumbles with his rocks,




Through the meadows,


Towards an outcrop of Granite,

Or Diorite?


Hard to tell…

Through the haze…

Haze of the booze…

You can find more of my work at:

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