Instead Of Blogging…

Things I’ve been doing instead of blogging, this last month, include:

  • Code Week: hacking Three Rings code in a converted hay loft of a Derbyshire farm, as mentioned on the Three Rings blog.
  • Hoghton Tower: as is traditional at this time of year (see blog posts from 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, for example), went to Preston for the Hoghton Tower concert and fireworks display, accompanied by Ruth, and my sister’s 22nd birthday. My other sister has more to say about it.
  • Family Picnic: Joining Ruth and JTA at Ruth’s annual family picnic, among her billions of second-cousins and third-aunts.
  • New Earthwarming: Having a mini housewarming on New Earth, where I live with Ruth, JTA, and Paul. A surprising number of people came from surprisingly far away, and it was fascinating to see some really interesting networking being done by a mixture of local people (from our various different “circles” down here) and distant guests.
  • Bodleian Staff Summer Party: Yet another reason to love my new employer! The drinks and the hog roast (well, roast vegetable sandwiches and falafel wraps for me, but still delicious) would have won me over by themselves. The band was just a bonus. The ice cream van that turned up and started dispensing free 99s: that was all just icing on the already-fabulous cake.
  • TeachMeet: Giving a 2-minute nanopresentation at the first Oxford Libraries TeachMeet, entitled Your Password Sucks. A copy of my presentation (now with annotations to make up for the fact that you can’t hear me talking over it) has been uploaded to the website.
  • New Earth Games Night: Like Geek Night, but with folks local to us, here, some of whom might have been put off by being called “Geeks”, in that strange way that people sometimes do. Also, hanging out with the Oxford On Board folks, who do similar things on Monday nights in the pub nearest my office.
  • Meeting Oxford Nightline: Oxford University’s Nightline is just about the only Nightline in the British Isles to not be using Three Rings, and they’re right on my doorstep, so I’ve been meeting up with some of their folks in order to try to work out why. Maybe, some day, I’ll actually understand the answer to that question.
  • Alton Towers & Camping: Ruth and I decided to celebrate the 4th anniversary of us getting together with a trip to Alton Towers, where their new ride, Thirteen, is really quite good (but don’t read up on it: it’s best enjoyed spoiler-free!), and a camping trip in the Lake District, with an exhausting but fulfilling trek to the summit of Glaramara.
Setting up camp at Stonethwaite.

That’s quite a lot of stuff, even aside from the usual work/volunteering/etc. stuff that goes on in my life, so it’s little wonder that I’ve neglected to blog about it all. Of course, there’s a guilt-inspired downside to this approach, and that’s that one feels compelled to not blog about anything else until finishing writing about the first neglected thing, and so the problem snowballs.

So this quick summary, above? That’s sort-of a declaration of blogger-bankruptcy on these topics, so I can finally stop thinking “Hmm, can’t blog about X until I’ve written about Code Week!”

Busy Weekends Part I

The weekend before the weekend before last, Ruth, JTA and I went up to Preston, for:

My Sister’s Birthday


My sister, Sarah, turned 21 at the start of this month, and we – accompanied by her friends and family – went out to a new Punjabi restaurant called East Z East. The food was fantastic (although in hindsight we probably should have adapted the formula as far as naan bread is concerned, at least – each naan bread was about three feet long!), but the restaurant was a little full! Perhaps be better on a midweek night.

And…

Hoghton Tower

As has become traditional (see blog entries for 2009, 2005, 2003), the next stop was Hoghton Tower for their annual concert and fireworks display. As usual, this event began with the erection of a gazebo in which to have our picnic.


The instructions for the gazebo clearly stated that it was to be constructed by two adults, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to help Ruth and JTA building it, except in a supervisory capacity. I helpfully assembled the first deckchair and sat in it, drinking a beer and overseeing the process.


My management skills paid off, and soon we had a gazebo, tables, and a (huge) picnic.


Some of my sister Becky‘s friends had brought face paints and brushes with them, so we formed a line of people, each painting the face of the next. My mum painted mine: she asked what I wanted, so I told her that I wanted a narwhal, breaching the water and leaping for the sky. I think she did a pretty good job:


Then came my turn. I was to paint Ruth, but she didn’t know what she wanted. The suggestion came that I should paint a rubber duck on her forehead, and so long as you don’t mind ducks that look like they’re from canary heritage:


The concert itself was even better than normal – the arsenal of fireworks was even huger than we were used to, and was supplemented by the addition of a laser show, too! I was slightly disappointed that God Save The Queen wasn’t performed (not for any patriotic reason, I’m sure you understand – I’m just used to them playing it!). Still, a great night, and a fabulous excuse for me to re-educate Ruth in how to count to three (in order to waltz, you see: it’s incredibly difficult to dance when one participant is counting to three and the other is counting to two).

Hoghton Tower

Claire and I just got back from a weekend in Preston, taking the opportunity to visit my folks as well as to (as is now traditional) go to the annual “Symphony at the Tower” at Hoghton Tower (which Ruth and I buzzed by hot air balloon on our way back from Scotland, earlier this year).

Highlights included:

Sticking marshmallows to Claire while eating our picnic in the gazebo we would later abandon on the site after many years of faithful service.

The music. Of course. The Philharmonic Concert Orchestra were as good as ever.

Dancing! (some folks started dancing a lot sooner than others, as shown)

Whatever’s going on here! (I think perhaps I’m too far away from the stage and can’t see what’s going on, even wearing borrowed jam-jar-thickness glasses).

My sister insisting on getting to be in a photo with the mayor. I think she thinks that by putting this picture on Facebook and tagging it, it’ll somehow help her future political career.

The rain pouring down. Thankfully, we were equipped and ready with emergency poncho supplies, so we were able to carry on leaping around like mad fools and letting only the bottom part of our sleeves get wet. Claire later had to wring hers out. Spirits remained undampened.

Claire falling in love with a singer wearing Union Jack trousers. In the photo, I think he’s singing “Jerusalem“.

The fireworks at the end of the concert were particularly spectacular this year, despite the weather. It was great to catch up with my family again, too (and visit my sister Becky‘s work, leap around on my dad’s trampoline until I injured my back doing so, liberate eggs from my mum’s chickens, and so on), although the journey to and from Preston was particularly tiresome this time around, and I’m sure my travelsickness is getting more pronounced. There’s more photos from the trip here.

Back in Aber, I’ve got a few fun little projects to be working on, alongside the usual things that keep me busy. I’ll blog about a few of these when I get the chance.