The course is a hothouse mix of theory and hands on, with a competition between the four syndicates of delegates to add a little spice. The practical process unfolds as you learn, and the tutors prompt, cajole and focus your thinking. We were even starting to use projective techniques over the cornflakes by the beginning of day two.

But moderating is not the half of it. Discussion Guides, Analysis, Interpretation and Presentation were all covered, and then tried out. An important element of the experience was to work with people in the industry on the project and to find out that we really do speak the same language as one another.

It's not real life, but it's as close as it could get, and I left the course feeling inspired, better informed about qualitative research, comfortable about this career move and as keen as beans to get on with it. It was just the kind of stimulus I needed. Lectures and presentations alone couldn't have given me that.

I arrived back to find my first project waiting. What timimg!