The life & times of an HVAC Engineer

{September 18, 2010}   The journey of a thousand (and seven hundred) miles

I start a blog and a twitter account, then immediately desert them and cease to exist in the blogosphere for a week. I feel very neglectful, so let me explain where I’ve been all week:

For our birthday’s my fiancé and I decided to get away from it all and spend some time together in the Highlands of Scotland. We banned talk of work, logging on to the internet, mobile phones (though we still took them with us – they’re far too handy in an emergency to leave those behind, we just kept them switched off) and anything else that would distract us from enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. So instead of our usual style of holiday, hopping onto a plane clutching a sheaf of paper printouts of internet bookings, we chucked the tent in the car and drove north – relying on our “map of Scottish campsites” to show us the way. We were heading off for a relaxing low-tech holiday.

The hours on the road, and in the tent, with no TV or radio meant we had plenty of time to think and to talk. Which, despite our ruling of no-work-talk, soon lead to us discussing engineering – we are both geeks after all. You see, with time to reflect on it, we realised that for all we had tried to go low-tech we were still hugely reliant upon a broad variety of engineers. The automotive engineers who designed my tiny (and, on a 1700 mile round trip, wonderfully economic) Citroen C1 were obviously critical to the whole journey. But without such a well engineered tent I rather suspect the incredibly strong winds we experienced while camping in Ullapool would have had far greater an effect on us. We’d also probably have gotten a lot wetter while pitching it in the rain in Melvich, but thankfully it’s very quick to put up. The highway engineers who designed, built and maintain the many winding roads through the difficult Highland terrain, and keep them in fantastic conditions despite the extreme weather conditions each winter, were another vital ingredient to our holiday.

Those though are just the ‘obvious’ areas. Driving through Scotland I was very much reminded of how much we take electricity, and the engineers who enable us access to it, very much for granted. Wind turbines have become part of the landscape up in the Highlands, personally I think that’s no bad thing as I think they’re rather beautiful…and I’d far rather see those than a fossil fuel burning power station. Even when camping electricity is still an essential – I was always pleased the toilets were lit for one thing! I also enjoyed going into a well-lit, nicely heated pub for a well chilled beer and a hot dinner. Distillery tours also reminded me of how much easier electricity has made our lives – after all, I for one don’t want us to lose any more precious whiskey to fires caused by paraffin lamps!

I could go on for hours, highlighting the many many areas that engineers made a hidden but significant impact on not just my holiday but all of our lives, but I’m sure we’d all rather go and put the kettle on for another cuppa. In the mean time I shall leave you with the terrifying thought that next time I fancy a low-tech holiday I shall be hiking naked into the woods to catch rabbits with my bare hands, construct a bivouac and attempt to light a fire by rubbing two sticks together…


Adam says:

Good luck with your blog – engineering is all around us but its something we take completely for granted. I have some good contacts in the PR crew at Jaguar Land Rover these days (though they don’t let me engineer anything anymore!)if you want to do some networking as part of this – we have an active woman in engineering group there.


geekchloe says:

Hi Adam,

There is actually a JLR engineer in amongst the “Ingenious Women” – Danielle Charlotte Moore, so I wouldn’t want to detract from the JLR PR crew publicising her. However, it might be an idea for all the Midlands Ingenious Women to share resources so perhaps Danielle & I (and any other local ladies on the project) could do something together for your PR crew to do something with. Perhaps you could mention the idea to them if you have good contacts?

Thank-you! And thanks for reading the blog.


Danielle says:

Hey Chloe….well done on setting up the blog. Can’t wait to read your next entry!
Yes Adam…I’m also part of the ‘Ingenious Women’ project and work at JLR so if you want to give me and Chloe a shout, that would be great! I’m on the JLR system (although my surname on there is Clissold…my maiden name). Look forward to hearing from you both.


geekchloe says:

Hi Danni,

Good to hear from you & even better to hear that you’re up for getting up to something “Ingenious” together!

Speak to you soon,

Hi Chloe
So this is what the world looks like to the travelling engineer! I could do with a tent that goes up at the press of a button and has no condensation. And maybe is sound proofed, as the children all squeal all night from excitement and stop me from sleeping…

Is that possible?

geekchloe says:

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for reading. Perhaps rather than a tent you could tow your own accommodation:
That way you don’t have to put it up, and you could leave the kids outside for some peace & quiet…if you were feeling kind I suppose you could give them a tent to stay in…otherwise they’d paw at the windows all night 😉
You might need something a bit more powerful than a C1 to take it round the Highlands though!

Adam says:

Ah that explains why I could find you Danni on CDS look-up – I will ping a mail over to you tomorrow. Best contacts I have are Steph Stephenson in PR and of cour Les Ratcliffe who’s the community relations manager – he’s uber helpful.


Wow – I want that capsule!

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