Welcome Back

The blog is back! I’ve been on hiatus for the past couple of years with posting to the blog and working on the website. Like everyone, I’ve had a crazy ride since the last time I posted here. So what’s been happening? Here’s a quick rundown, along with some photos of life over the last few years.

In March 2020, I was living in Thailand where I’d been living since late 2019 and expecting to stay for another six months. My thesis writing was going really well and I’d expected to finish it in the time I had left in Thailand. But, in the end, I rushed back to Australia on the last day that Singapore Airport was open before COVID-19 closures.

My office view on Koh Phangan in 2019. It was tough, I’m telling you!
My 2020 office view in Melbourne during my quarantine. This doesn’t show the bed taking up most of the rest of the room 😀

Over the next two years I kept working on the thesis in lockdown in Melbourne while doing other history projects, having a part-time university job, and doing some university marking. We moved twice from a tiny one bedroom into ultimately a two bed plus study, where we both had a study to do our online teaching/meetings and work-from-home. Having an outdoor space finally after years also meant LOTS of pandemic-gardening-PhD-procrastination times!

In 2022, when everyone was slowly emerging from lockdowns, I was still hunkered down finishing the thesis. I did my completion seminar (sort of like a viver or defence but less scary I think!) in May, which went really really well (I might post the text of that sometime soon). Then in July I went to a big in-person history conference, caught up with friends, and promptly caught COVID.

A bit of a holiday from thesis writing. The Australian Historical Association Conference 22 in Geelong. Which was fabulous but ended up giving me COVID 😀
A quick whip through the Sydney Arcades on a last-minute research trip in November 2022. This is the Queen Victoria Building, ostensibly built as a ‘market’ in 1898, but always intended as a grand arcade.

Despite it really knocking me around, I spent the next six months working hard and finishing my thesis, which I handed in on 14 December! It was such an amazing feeling after all that time working on it. While I hadn’t and still haven’t lost passion for the subject itself, I was very keen to be actually finished the thesis. It was so amazing to have a Christmas break without working on (or feeling guilty about not working on) my thesis.

So, in early March, after less than three months, I got the results back as a pass with no changes! Though I did have to do some typo corrections and proofs, there were no substantive changes to the content. This is so pleasing when you know, yes, you’ve done a good job, but your examiners might feel you need to do a bit more.

Exhausted but happy after thesis submission on 14 December. I’d had about six hours sleep in 48 hours at this point. I also couldn’t stand my office anymore so moved into the loungeroom for the final couple of weeks. This image largely hides the mess!
Getting to enjoy the Brunello my parents bought in 2007 and saved for my PhD graduation. It was sublime. So amazing to actually fully enjoy Christmas with my thesis out of the way.

In early April, I got the okay to submit the final version to our university repository and the thesis should be conferred (I officially became a Doctor of Philosophy) in mid- to late May. My graduation’s likely set for early August and I can’t wait to wear the funny hat 😀 Meanwhile, I’m heading off to the UK to be on a panel at the Journal of Urban History 50th anniversary conference in July and then head to some archives for research in England and Scotland, with a quick side trip to Ireland.

Depositing the final version of the thesis in April 2023.
Urban wanderings in Sydney again after the final version submission, April 2023. QVB featuring again, together with the new Sydney trams/light rail.

This blog is going to be more regularly update from now on with topics from the thesis and things that I didn’t really get to go into much detail on or had to leave out all together due to work length, including more biographies; individual histories of arcade buildings; some reminiscences from the experience of thesis writing and research; and more discussion on what was sold in the arcade shops and the experiences of those that worked and visited. I’ll be redesigning the site and hopefully adding some sort of virtual exhibition space, as well as digital humanities/visualisation work that I’d like to do in the coming year.

Please keep posting comments and tell me more about what you’d like to learn on the site.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, as well as taking note of my business website, Epigraphein, where I offer professional history research and writing, editing and proofing..

So stay tuned and glad to be back!

Feature image: celebrating 130 years of the Block Arcade, while lining up to buy Easter treats at Haighs, April 2023

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