Friday, February 20, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XLV: Sara Batts


Sara Batts has a day job as Senior Research Librarian at the London office of a US law firm, a varied and unpredictable role. She is also studying part-time for a PhD investigating how English churches are using the internet to share their information. As well as being active on several library related committees, she runs a fortnightly womens’ prayer breakfast at St Margaret’s Lothbury. She is a real ale fan and a keen but slow runner. Sara lives in Colchester and one of her blogs is
Running Life

What made you decide to start blogging?

My PhD is concerned with the use of the internet by churches, so it seemed natural to locate reports of my progress there. I can get a bit shouty about the issues around being a single adult Christian, or indeed a Christian full stop, so it seemed like a good idea to record those in one place too.

What is your best blogging experience?

I had a fellow student contact me which was great, as it felt like it affirmed me as a real researcher, not some idiot doing a PhD for the fun of it.

And your worst?

Failing to maintain the contact with this student and probably just not exploiting the medium as well as I could have done.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

‘Men Breakfast and Ladies Lunch’ from March last year, though it’s given me a bit of a shock to realise it’s almost a year old.

Favourite blogs?, plus Paul’s of course having just discovered it, and there are a few law librarian type blogs of interest out there too.

One of your blogs is about being a Phd student. Have you had any feedback from that at all from students and/or lecturers?

None from lecturers, in fact I don’t think that my supervisors have read it, which is a bit of a shame because my intention was to use it as a tool to keep them up to date. I’m a distance, part-time student so I don’t see them very often, which is a challenge. I did have contact with a couple of other students but I was a bit rubbish at keeping in touch with them, which is embarrassingly poor of me.

Your other blog is mainly about running as a hobby. How much has that changed or affected you as a person since you took it up?

I think it has affected me in that I am more aware of the way in which my body works and what I put into it. I think I am more aware too of how the fitter I am physically, the better I cope mentally, and that running in times of stress helps. I am also completely aware of how lazy and defeatist I can be.

And do you have a favourite marathon?

I haven’t run one yet but I am looking forward to my first London in April. I’ve gone along to support a few times in the past and the atmosphere feels fantastic. I’d love to run the New York marathon too, just because it’s another city I love.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Plenty of places, as I haven’t travelled much. I’d love to visit the Austrian Tyrol and Canada’s Prince Edward Island as these are places my favourite books are set. I’ve never been to Russia, so would want to go to St Petersburg and see the Winter Palace. Australia... NZ... Japan – could spend some time in that corner of the world, too.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I would love to go back to New York. But then I also love the Lake District and I haven't found the time to return there for years either, nor the Outer Hebrides. I went to Lewis for my Duke of Edinburgh award expedition and I think going back for an unassessed trip, where I am allowed to go to the pub, would be great.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I have a soft spot for Lenin, not in a great ideological way, but I studied Russia 1900-1939 or thereabouts for A level history and he was quite an intriguing character. His speeches seemed interminably dull when read in translation so it was a challenge to imagine how they could have been so inspiring to his followers.

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

If you mean a deadly serious figure from history, then I don’t think I have one. If you mean contemporaries then people like the cartoonist Dave Walker for encouraging us to laugh at the ridiculousness of some of our rituals, or Giles Fraser for championing inclusivity, are people I admire greatly.

Favourite Bond movie?

I don’t really do Bond, I am afraid, but I quite liked the last one I saw which was Daniel Craig’s first outing. Favourite Bond *actor* was Timothy Dalton.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I liked Peter Davison – he was just at the point where I stopped being scared. ‘Tidy your room or I’ll make you watch Doctor Who’ was a comedy threat of my mother’s – and started to follow the stories.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

I never saw the Wonder Stuff when they were at the height of their thing, so that would be good.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

I’ve never been to Barsby and I don’t know anything about it (should I?) so as long as it’s got a pub with decent beer, I’d happily go there for the novelty. I like both Oxford and Cambridge but would go for Oxford I think if Barsby doesn’t measure up on the ale front.

Favourite national newspaper?

I’d only really every buy the Guardian if I had a choice, although I have a kind of affection for the FT as I do read it for work purposes.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Do I do anything that counts as a hobby? I suppose my PhD takes up the time other people would spend knitting or filing their stamp collections. Otherwise it’s drinking beer, running, church stuff, watching football, spending too much time on the internet – not hobbies exactly, but ways of passing the time I suppose! Oh, and am too many committees...

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Three favourite songs – Groove is in the Heart by Deelite; Affirmation by Savage Garden, Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters. Well, that’s today’s choice, I’d be in trouble if I had to pick three in a hurry.

My favourite books are not intellectual. I don’t really read fiction, unless it’s kids’ – so I love the Anne of Green Gables and Chalet School series and can re-read those again and again. They’re set in PEI and the Tyrol, hence my travel choices. Can I count a series as one choice each? The third, if I am allowed, is hard to decide too – if my flat were burning down I’d grab Mere Christianity, Bad Science, Lost Moon, Live Alone and Like it, Eats Shoots & Leaves...

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