2017, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

My time at Juniper Hall

By Rowena

Hello! My name is Rowena. I have been at Juniper Hall for two years now as a tutor. However, now is the end of my time here- I am moving on to new things in the frozen North, at Newcastle University!

Prepare For Game Of Thrones To Get Really, Really Dark | Space

It’s going to be so cold.

As part of the tutor team, Juniper Hall has been a fantastic experience. From waking up every morning to this view…

I’ve taught some very interesting groups in my time:

  • Students that have found the free U2 album on the ipads and played music while recording river measurements
  • A-level biologists from London that have played hide-and-seek after class because they’ve never been to the countryside
  • “Miss, can woodlice fly? I bet they can.”
  • “Miss, is that a cow?” [Points at black & white horse]
  • A KS2 group that had to almost run back to centre from Box Hill after a freak thunderstorm, getting drenched by the time we were back (It was actually in Reigate)
  • A KS2 student that decided to make “leaf angels” with me (You rock!)
  • Every single student that’s sung the Banana song the next morning after a campfire
  • My last group that cheered so hard, and climbed on each other’s shoulders (in Bebbington. I feared for their heads)
  • All the students that have tried to jump the River Tillingbourne at Crossways, especially those that have failed (especially the ones that failed on camera!)
  • The students that have gotten stuck in Pagham Harbour with big muddy smiles
  • The students that wanted to spray paint rocks to investigate longshore drift (always a good idea!)
  • The KS2 children that made themselves beards out of burrs and stickyweed
  • The children that have fallen in the River Mole at the Stepping Stones (or leapt)
  • The Real Family Holiday families and children who have all been so curious- those that have climbed the starfish (I fear for you), the amazing red-haired super-mum who pushed a double buggy all the way to the shelter building area, the sweet kids that sat and made apple bird-feeders for hours last year, the huge set of families that made the most incredible shelter I’ve ever seen, that sat about 10 and didn’t leak a drop!
  • All the lovely schools that have brightened my days with thank-you letters…

It’s been said never to work with children and animals, and yet I’ve spent most days working with both (for better and for worse!)

 

 

 

animals

  • Once I found a mole in the River Tillingbourne
  • I’ve been headbutted by the goats so many times
  • I’ve spray-painted a chicken purple
  • A student once just straight-up grabbed a lizard from underneath a log and it was awesome
  • The horses at Crossways Farm have chased me around the field about 10 times in the last 2 months
  • The students that, instead of picking up an invasive crayfish after they dropped it, jumped on it, then threw it in a tree
  • The teacher that allowed me to scare their entire class with a pet stick insect (they all left the room entirely for 10 minutes)
  • The school that drove me to Leatherhead Animal Rescue to rehabilitate an exhausted brown long-eared bat and got me in the newspaper!

 

I’ve had such a good time while I’ve been here (in all weathers- sun, rain, snow, thunderstorms), with so many incredible memories. Perhaps one day I’ll come back to teach again! After all, I haven’t yet had a pond named after me like Kate (one of our recent Education Assistants).

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This is definitely the best spot to teach from

Thanks for all the great memories, Juniper!

2017, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Uncategorized

Best geography & ecology resources

By Rowena

Over time, I’ve been collating a list of websites that are some of the best (or coolest) resources for geography, biology and ecology.

Geography

Datashine  -The 2011 census, geolocated and mapped for multiple different census datasets.

NullSchool  -Mapping of the world, showing meteorological flows and ocean currents.

Ventusky  -Similar to NullSchool, although on a flat projection. Generally slightly easier to use than NullSchool.

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Windy.com  -Weather patterns emerging over the next 5 days, with forecasts and animated maps.

CO2 levels  -Looks at atmospheric carbon dioxide and the change over the past ~260 years.

Fairness on the 83  -Fascinating human geography on inequality in Sheffield, and the changes in life expectancy over the route of the 83 Bus.

GeoLibrary  -365 days of geographical books, covering all topics geographical!

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London Tree Map  -London’s trees mapped, by species.

Made with Padlet

Ecology & Environmental Science

ISpot  -Citizen science project to identify and map species.

Hunt the Moth -A fun game where you have to find the camouflaged moth as fast as possible.

Cloud Atlas -An international atlas of different types of cloud, by the World Meteorological Organization. Used to describe and define different types of cloud.

And finally, data presentation…

Episode #58: The Financial Times Graphic Desk - Policy Viz

FT Interactive  -Visual vocabulary, but interactive!

2017, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

A day at Juniper Hall

By Rowena

The other day I was talking to a friend and they asked me “I’d really like to know what you actually did at work every day”, because I’ve  got interesting new stories every week. Well, as I run the blog (as much as I can, inbetween teaching), I thought I’d write up a standard day at the River Tillingbourne, where I spend most of my time.

A day at the River with a (big) GCSE group

8.45am– Turn up to the tutor’s office for our morning meeting. Check where everyone’s going (100 at the river? Fantastic.) Listen to Jack crack out some amazing jokes and have everyone laugh.

9.00am– Set up classroom with whiteboards, booklets and check equipment. Put morning tunes on the SmartBoard. Check in with other tutors they’re happy with the day & plans.

9.25am– Check school have arrived in the main office. Photocopy nominal roll and check numbers.

9.30am– Meet teachers & group. Try and organise 100 GCSE kids into 4 class groups. They get distracted by the goats fighting. Finally get them sorted with waterproofs and wellies in the cellar.

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10.00am– Introduction to the river in the classroom, using ArcGIS and whiteboards and booklets. Give out equipment. Students get confused over hydroprops. Give out lots of pencils.

11.00am– Coach to the river. This is either 20 minutes of quiet, or utter raucous noise.

11.20am– Arrive at Crossways Farm. Give safety briefing and walk down road. Students scream at the muddy entrance. Horses sometimes try to escape. Give introduction to fieldwork and set students off.

11.45am– Stop horses from eating hydroprop. Watch student fall in river after attempting to jump across. Pick up 6 hydroprops from where they’ve been left discarded on the ground. Field sketches using SNOTT (Scale, Notes, Orientation, Time/Date, Title).

12.00pm– Coach to Abinger Hammer. Fieldwork first. Stand for 10 minutes watching last group mess around while rest of groups eat lunch.

12.30pm– Eat lunch now last group have finished. Hope nobody is dropping litter. Hope nobody has abandoned equipment in the river.

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River

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1.15pm– Fish tape measure out of river. Coach to Gomshall 2.

1.30pm– Fieldwork at Gomshall 2. Students get completely soaked as it’s the last (and deepest) river site.  Find lamprey. Students scream more.

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Mist on the river

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2.30pm– Return to Juniper Hall on coach. Students have break. Wrestle with data and printer. Also return waterproofs.

3.00pm– Methods game & methodologies in classroom. Give out more pencils. Students forget how they measured width. Remind them.

4.00pm– Cake break. Enjoy sunshine for 10 minutes.

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4.20pm– Teachers announce they want to leave early at 4.30. Quickly wrap up.

4.30pm– Put away equipment in cellar. Send through data to school on Dropbox. Answer emails. Print for tomorrow- another rivers’ day? Great! Perhaps get a cup of tea (finally).

5.45pm– HOMETIME! Perhaps drop by the kitchen for some dinner if it’s something good. Chocolate pudding? Don’t mind if I do…

 

And then we do it all again tomorrow!

 

Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Invasives Week

By Rowena

This week is invasive species week on Twitter, and I’ve been watching a lot of really interesting stuff come up on my feed all week. It’s been organised by the NNSS (Non-native Species Secretariat) and DEFRA to try and raise awareness of invasive species, and get people involved in recording schemes. Each day has a different theme:

Monday – Welcome to Invasive Species Week!
Tuesday – Biosecurity
Wednesday – Identification and recording
Thursday – Local Action Groups
Friday – Other projects

My favourite resource I’ve found so far this week (although it’s only Tuesday that I’m writing this…) has been the Journal of Ecology’s virtual issue, with over 20 different papers about different invasive species and up-to-date research in the area. I’ve downloaded them to my laptop, but haven’t yet had the time to read them… Soon.

On the NNSS website, there’s loads of free training on biosecurity and identification of non-native species. To be able to tackle invasive species effectively, it’s important to have the distribution and evidence of where species are found- NNSS have developed a set of apps to record different invasive species, and help identify individuals. I’m not familiar with all of them, although Juniper Hall do record a lot of our species on iRecord. We also have a fantastic species list from the University of Cambridge who visit each year, and record literally everything they see. I’m also on a mission to get my Birdtrack back up to date, as I’ve been birding a lot recently but actually have no count of what I’ve been seeing!

Introducing BirdTrack Home | BTO - British Trust for Ornithology

Wednesday is identification and recording day- So a quick list of invasives I’ve seen at our field sites before…

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Himalayan balsam, Signal crayfish, Rhododendron, Ringed parakeet, Harlequin ladybird

I’ve not got time to update this again after today (which is still Wednesday, although I scheduled this for the end of the week) but it’s a cool initiative that seems to be educating a lot of people. I’ve definitely found a lot of interesting stuff I’m planning to read in the future this week!

Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall

BENHS Conference & Saproxylic inverts

By Rowena

At the weekend I travelled over to Oxford to go to the annual BENHS (British Entomological and Natural History Society) AGM. It was, in a few words, pretty great. A day full of lectures about various British insects, including art, history and a tour around the stacks of the Oxford Natural History Museum afterwards to see some of the collections.

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Natural history

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One of the best days out I’ve had in ages- and you don’t actually have to be a member to attend the day either, which is great. The next couple of blog posts are going to be about what I learnt that are also pretty relevant to what we do over here at Juniper Hall.

Woodland ecosystems and saproxylic species

Saproxylic species are organisms that live in deadwood. The BENHS talk was focussed on woodlands, so I am going to as well- most of the research on saproxylic species focuses on woodlands. Saproxylic species make up 7% of all British fauna– there are over 800 beetles, 730 flies,  300 hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps), and 50 moth species present within deadwood. Unfortunately many of these species are threatened by the need for “tidy woodlands“- the removal of deadwood. Over-management of parks and woodland gardens has a lot of fallen deadwood removed, to try and keep an area tidy. Standing deadwood and timber branches are also regularly removed, as it’s thought to be dangerous or a potential haven for diseases and pests.

Types of deadwood (Source: TVC)

At European scale, 11% of saproxylic beetles are threatened. It might be that part of the problem is due to woodland management, where modern harvesting practice does not allow trees to fully mature, cropping them before they can naturally produce deadwood. In areas that have been previously coppiced or pollarded, deadwood invertebrates are likely to persist in tree hollows, although the loss of this traditional woodland management causes saproxylic invertebrate numbers to decrease.

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Please help me! (Source: Greg Humphries)

So what’s better? To manage a woodland traditionally, using coppicing and pollarding, or to leave woodlands completely alone and prevent “tidying” of woodland, allowing a deadwood environment to emerge on the ground? Certainly it seems that either method is better than modern techniques of harvesting an area for trees, as this causes the total removal of material even before deadwood can form. It has been noticed that coppiced areas can produce special microclimates for deadwood fauna, however if an area is too-well managed, coppice reverts to being of little importance for deadwood conservation.

TM1497 : Lower Wood Nature Reserve - coppiced trees

To coppice, or not to coppice? (Image credit: geograph.org.uk)

Perhaps it’s too difficult to draw a conclusion on the best way to manage woodland for deadwood invertebrates when there’s little currently being researched on a large scale- more important, it seems, is to just try and create deadwood habitats to start off with, and worry about woodland management when our saproxylites are a little bit more stable in the future.

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A happy home for many invertebrates (Source: Buglife.com)

2016, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Uncategorized

Conference 2016

By Rowena

I’ve not written a blog post for a while, because it’s just been incredibly busy! But I’ve got a little bit of time today. 2016 was a pretty intense year, but finished up by one of the most exciting events of the year- FSC Conference, this year at our very own Juniper Hall.

FSC conference is held every year for staff, to share ideas, meet people from other centres and have a bit of fun to celebrate the end of a successful year. I’ve never been to staff conference before- last year I was teaching!- so it was quite something to see it go from start to finish. First thing to arrive was the tent, and all the decorations had to be put up on monday…

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Let there be lights

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The decorations were handmade, those on the trees by our amazing groundskeeper Sarah.

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#christmas decorations

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When tuesday afternoon rolled around, suddenly JH was teeming with people as staff from other centres flooded in. We happily met friends from Malham Tarn, Rhyd-y-creuau, Flatford Mill, Slapton… And the activities began!

The main event was day 2, when we all dispersed into groups to visit different places in London and the surrounding area to look at sustainability. One of the FSC’s core values is sustainability, so we wanted to look at companies who were doing this really well and how we could improve. Groups scattered to London Zoo, the Natural History Museum, London Wetland Centre, Marks & Spencer, the Crystal, Bushy Park and Leatherhead Youth Project. I went to Leatherhead Youth Project, as I’ve worked with them before, and we met staff there to discuss their values and how they share them. Their passion to make a difference to young peoples’ lives was inspiring, and we took a lot away to share back with the rest of conference the next day.

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The evening of day 2 we had a barn dance in the tent out on the front lawn- the theme was “dress to impress”, and some of the costumes sure were impressive… and so was the dancing!

Spiral dance

Thursday was a quick morning roundin up our findings and what we wanted to take forward into the new year, then it was suddenly all over as we were waving goodbye to our new friends from all over the country. Till next year!

2016, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Coastal geography development

By Rowena

New specifications are coming for September, and we’ve been very busy putting together brand new days for them…

It’s a long way down to the coast from Juniper Hall, about an hour and a half to Newhaven or Pagham each, so we split it over a couple of days. Coasts is coming back in a big way to geography, so we headed down on Wednesday to update our fieldwork techniques and collect some secondary data (and some pokemon! Newhaven has loads!)

Newhaven is one of those places that seems to be always windy, but the beach is pretty nice when the sun finally comes out. The tide was really far out, so we explored down past a wooden groyne at the end of the beach, and the rockpools below the pebble beach. We also checked out a few information signs about the area for background information- along Seaford these were most helpful, showing a cross-section of the beach defences underneath the beach that’s been built up. Apparently there are 3 different sea walls hidden under there!

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Investigating information boards

While we were at Newhaven, we had a go at some beach and cliff profiling, collecting some secondary data for groups to use and compare their own data to in the future. Out with the clinometers and the ranging poles!

Cracking out the ranging poles

After Newhaven, we headed down to Seaford, for both chips on the beach (lunch!), and a look at the terminal groyne. This prevents longshore drift removing all the sediment from the beach (ie, the whole thing).  We measured the beach profile beyond the terminal groyne as well, to give a bit of a comparison to Newhaven- which is in front of the harbour arm, so a little different. Did a spot of bird watching as well- lovely fulmars flying round the cliffs, and cormorants drying their wings on Seaford’s stack.

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360 view from Seaford’s terminal groyne

Next we headed off to Birling Gap, famous for its slowly-diminishing number of houses. There are only four left now after they knocked the fifth down a couple of years ago, and it’s a really good example of what happens when there’s no coastal management along a piece of coastline.

We had a quick stop off at Cuckmere Haven on the way back to look at the meanders, before hitting the road to get back to JH for the weekly Stepping Stones quiz!

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Juniper Hall’s education team (Missing Denham D:)

2016, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

New Bio Spec – Immersion into Ecology

As discussed in one of Rowena’s recent blogs, South Eastern training took place at Juniper Hall shortly after our much needed Christmas break. One of the topics presented to us was an ‘immersion into ecology’ session at the begining of Biology residential courses. This idea was shared by Head of Centre at Flatford Mill, Jo Harris. It is designed to provide a really exciting and inspirational start to Biology courses and to get students thinking for themselves right from the start! The education team here at JH thought that it was such a brilliant idea that we decided to tweak it to suit our environment and landscape and use it in our courses. Exciting times!

Inspired by Jo Harris’ presentation at training I made it my mission to observe the first one of these sessions in action at JH. Taught by one of our tutors, Michelle, the session was tried on seven year 12 Biologists from St.Orleans school. She opened with the simple question “why are you here?” The reponses were “to conduct field research” and shouted out from the front of the class “BIODIVERSITY!” This was the perfect start to the course as you could tell that this was an incredibly keen group who were ready to immerse themselves into Ecology!

In my last blog I think I highlighted that the last Biology lesson I had was in my years as  a GCSE dual Scientist, so I was already expecting to be out of my depth. Michelle opened up proceedings with a quick quiz on key Ecological terms in which I scored, what I thought was a fairly respectable, 4/7, considering my last Biology lesson is now a distant memory! So I thought it would be a good idea to write this blog from the point of view of myself, as one of the students – at least it will give me an excuse for all the spelling errors!

We were asked to write down in groups what factors influence the abundance and distribution of organisms. We were given 90 seconds to do this and then organise the factors into 2 categories – Biotic and Abiotic. Then as a class, we made links between all of these factors, and I soon learnt that this is what Ecology is, the relationship between basically all biotic and abiotic factors.

The top of Lodge Hill was the location from which we would complete our Field Sketch.

15 minutes later we were outside and enjoying the great February weather…

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Despite the wind and rain, still a brilliant view of The Burford Spur, Denbies Vinyard and a fraction of Dorking- Lodge Hill

This photo doesn’t do the dreadful conditions justice…

The relationship between Biotic and Abiotic factors came into play here as there were endless opportunities to note interactions. For example, the field sketch shows the relationship between biotic and abiotic factors over time, including human intervention. With the growth of Dorking into a town with a population now of over 11,000, changes have been made to the local landscape. Town development obviously has caused transport routes into the town such as railways and main roads have developed. Therefore plant and species diversity has lowered, due to transport links breaking up habitats into patches. This has resulted in the need for humans to manage the woodland for example. Monocultures, with one dominant species in an area and little biodiversity, means that genetic variety has been reduced, therefore making the same species more susceptible to disease.

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Artistically gifted – this is my attempt at a Biology field sketch. I was pretty proud of the annotations too.

The “Classification Scavanger Hunt” followed which encouraged immersion and the use of exciting technologies.We were given 15 minutes to explore Templeton woods, find and take photos of as many of the “5 Kingdoms of life” as we could. To do this we used the app Popplet. Popplet allows you to create a classification diagram, including pictures, links and labels- a really visual and interactive way of learning.

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Fungi are so distinct from animals and plants, they have been allocated their own “kingdom”

A session that sums up what the FSC is all about. I definitely gained a lot of environmental understanding, thanks to the education team for creating this programme and to Michelle for the excellent delivery!

by Rory

2016, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Top 5 fieldwork apps

By Rowena

I said I would eventually get round to writing a blog post on the apps we use here at Juniper Hall, and here it is! As we’re not always in classrooms (as expected, as we are field studies tutors, after all!), tablets are really valuable resources for recording data in new and interesting ways. They’re even better in the rain, as they don’t disintegrate like paper does- and before you question, “don’t Ipads die in the rain?”- yes they do, but not with Lifeproof covers on them!

Photo 01-02-2016 09 53 58

They’ve even been dropped in the river before and survived!

I’m not going to mention all of the apps we use, just because there are so many, but here’s a top 5 of my favourites.

 

  1. Freezepaint: Remix the world around you with FreezePaint – the easiest way to create fun, strange, impressionistic or beautiful compositions.

Coming in at number 5, Freezepaint is fantastic for making layered photo collages in the field. When up on the Burford Spur or the Woodlands, we use it for showing the difference in vegetation across a gradient, or between two different areas. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would be useful, with its smiling dog logo, but it’s actually a great way of visualising change where it might not be instantly obvious there’s a difference!

icon175x175

 

  1. Dropbox: Dropbox is the place for your photos, docs, videos, and other files. Files you keep in Dropbox are safely backed up and you can get to them from all your devices. It’s easy to send large files to anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account.

Dropbox is so useful from day-to-day! It’s not quite as fancy and exciting as the other apps, but it’s so helpful, I just had to include it. Cloud storage is super useful, especially in this line of work, as it means you can get resources out in the middle of nowhere (if you have the mobile data for it). Pretty great if you forget something! The best bit for the teachers about cloud storage is they can access files from school once they head home from Juniper Hall.

dropbox

 

  1. Popplet: Popplet is the simplest tool to capture and organize your ideas. With Popplet you can quick jot down your ideas and sort them visually.

This is my favourite new mindmap generator. The app costs a little money, but there’s a free web version as well. You can add text, pictures, lines between as many boxes as you can possibly think of… videos as well! If you’re really clever with it, you can turn it into a presentation as well, which is a bit more exciting than using another powerpoint…

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New astronomy resources using Popplet

  1. Night Sky: Just point your device to the sky to identify stars, planets, constellations and even satellites!

Although I’ve not used this much in teaching yet, Night Sky is a fantastic little app that I instantly downloaded onto my phone. It projects loads of information onto a phone or ipad; constellations (with pictures!), stars, the planets… sometimes you see the International Space Station whizz past as well. I’ve been developing some new stargazing resources for night walks, and this is an app that’s definitely making an appearance. It can tell you all about the different things in the sky, and there’s a pretty nifty “red light” version that you can switch to so you don’t ruin your night vision.

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Ursa Major, the Great Bear

  1. Skitch: See something that sparks an idea? Use Skitch to snap it, mark it up, and send it on in an instant. Your bold ideas stand out even brighter with Skitch.

Skitch is definitely my favourite app out there. It’s a really simple way of creating annotated photos, which are great to have in coursework. There are loads of different things you can add to a photo- text, stickers, highlighting- so it’s really versatile. You can also annotate a map of wherever it is you find yourself, or a webpage or PDF if you really wanted to. Makes it useful for studying, as well as for using out in the field.

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Not the best annotated photo, but it’s speedily done

So there you go, some really great apps you should all download. Enjoy!