Now, I’m a seasoned SRS user. Working there for over five years gave me the opportunity to stay at the “luxury” user accommodations on site. The Daresbury Hostel. There must be a reason why the words hostel and hostile are so closely sounding as the latter really explained the accommodation much better than the former.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Berkeley guest house. Tired and weary from my flight from the UK I could of about collapsed and slept anywhere. But no, not at the ALS they had to do things differently. No when I arrived I had to be awestruck, gob-smacked, stunned by the amazing building I was about to stay in. True I could not find the entrance, but no matter I would be staying in something rather nice. My heart leapt.

I checked-in with a little confusion, as my credit card fraud prevention had blocked my payment. But after that went up to my room, where I found a clean, IBIS hotel style room with a big bathroom, big TV and a fridge. Fantastic!

Then I was stunned further into silence when I went to the room where the PhD students were to be sleeping. Double beds, kitchenette, big TV, big bathroom and stunning views over the bay and of the bridge. Damn it! I was sharing with PhD student Chris, I bet he was not impressed with our deal. But we managed.

So the moral, do I need a moral? Well here goes, from the times of old synchrotron science use to be about staying up late working god only knows what hours to get that one piece of data. You didn’t care if the accommodation was rubbish if it was nearby you’d happily stay in a room with a sink, banging radiators and cold drafts rather take a 20 minute taxi ride to somewhere “squalid”. Now the ALS has a place which is brilliant and 20 seconds away from the beamlines. Is synchrotron science getting soft?

I’ve been told that Daresbury Lab South has now also got a deluxe user accommodation block, with ensuite bathrooms, double beds, TVs and wifi. If it is anything like the ALS I would say the quality of science can only go down. Why? Well if you know you have somewhere nice to go other than the beamline then why stay up that extra hour, why enduring the suffering to get that magic data set. You’ve got a warm clean bed in a nice comfortable environment, its calling you, bed time, no more beamtime……. Of course the free all you can drink freshly brewed coffee or tea and the clean working room with bay views may actually be somewhere good to go and work off the beamline, so things may be better still. Time will tell.

Sleep well scientists…………

One thing I can not let slip though, is their wifi. Not good, well yes it is fast and yes if your a “Windows user” you’ll be fine probably, but I use Linux a system that understands things like IPV6 and which when given the option will use it. But if you have not setup your router properly so it is had IPV6 and half IPV4 then Linux will not be happy. A few tweaks later I was running but a little annoyed. Especially when the person sat next to me on their windows laptop was straight online. Boooh. One other thing, ants! I think the guest house was built on an ant nest. They did not bother me so much but I can see a possible problem in the future. In the meantime they keep the bathroom clean!