Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I am in Bath, which is bringing back a flood of nostalgia, both good and bad, of times past. I certainly miss my times in Bath: it was a time when I had a lot of close friends who I saw regularly, and we had the advantage of an utterly gorgeous city to hang out in. I have fond memories of strolling across empty streets late at night, looking at the glorious city. Fabulous times.

These feelings are countered by some irritation at myself for stupidity. First of all I've managed to lose my railcard, which is frustating but not an insurmountable problem. Second of all I've forgotten my shaver, which means I'm going to have some lovely facial hair growth by the time I leave Bath. Maybe that'll be interesting- I've never grown facial hair before in my life, perhaps I'll look debonair.

The third mistake is quite an impressive one. I brought my university of southampton laptop so I could getr some rather vital work done while here, but in the process of attempting to get access to the university of Bath's residental network I have locked myself out of my own computer... Sigh. I'm pretty sure I'd be able to fix it if I had administrative access, but sadly I am not trusted with that, so am stuck with a hunk of metal for a week. Sigh.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

My trip to Eindhoven

Ah, theres nothing like getting back from honeymoon from a home you haven't been in for two weeks with your new wife... and heading to Eindhoven for three days. I suspect conferences are a bad way to see a new place, I tend to not be particularly positive, or researched before going somewhere, so have no idea of any significance of whats going on, but Einhoven did manage to fail to impress me quite spectacularly. It's basically the Southampton of Holland, boasting some rather ugly architecture (presumably because what was once there was flattened during the war). As a result, my impression was none too favourable.

The conference itself was reasonably pleasant, and the talks interesting. Well some were utterly incomprehensible, but never mind. The trains in Holland were impressive; they have double decker trains! Whole worlds of awesome, and also kind of confusing. It's weird to be able to look up at the platform!

My least favourite experience in Eindhoven (other than booking a plane farrrr too late, leaving me intensely bored with nothing to read), was the toilets in the airport. They have automatically flushing toilets, which is a stupid concept in of itself, I'm not entirely sure who it helps, but it becomes even more stupid when you lean forward, and the toilet flushes. Sigh. Of course, as a man, certain parts hang.... further down, so that was fully pleasent. Yay for efficiency!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The honeymoon

Prague is a gorgeous city. There's no doubt about that, although it isn't always completely welcoming. The architecture boasts elaborate decorations at all corners, including places such as the post office and even above a hard rock cafe. It's not hard to find beautiful murals in Prague, although getting an assessment of there history may be harder. Prague is a city that appears to live off tourism, and pretty much every activity will be charged for, especially if you want some information. Sadly many places lack much explanation unless you fork out for an audio guide. Having said that, you'll probably have guide books with you, which will provide some context at least. There were few people who we encountered who could not speak English, although, as mentioned, there was an undercurrent of hostility from some people. Certainly when we went into souvenir shops grim faced staff would follow us round, silently, evidently thinking we might steal something. Presumably this is fairly common, but it could have been done with a little more grace and style.

City breaks are hard work in many ways- hotel rooms tend to be a little oppressive, and while ours was nice, the idea of staying in and just relaxing wasn't that appealing. Besides, we'd still have to eat out! I think a week was just about perfect for us, we had a moment mid week where we just had to rest for a while, but spent most of the rest of our time seeing the sights, which were certainly impressive.

The main attractions are fairly well known, so there's no real point recommending them, but one hidden treasure is the national galllery. This is a little further out, but easily reachable by tram (if you can understand the arcane system, it's a little hard to follow on some of the maps), and is quite impressive. It has a mix of modern art, design, and painted art both by Czech artists and a collection of French artists (including many original Picassos). Because it is further out and the building less decorative, it was astonishingly empty when we arrived (friday afternoon in June), which felt glorious- there were 5 floors and we never spotted more than 2 or 3 people on each floor, which is astonishing considering the amount of art that is gathered there. Check it out before it becomes popular!

The food was cheap and nice, although rather stodgy. The vegetarian czech meals would inevitable involve melted cheese at some point, often slathered over grilled vegetables. Still, tasty and affordable- generally speaking we didn't need to spend over 25 pounds for both of us. One has to be a bit smart about ones choices of course- going to restaurants in tourist hot spots, such as the old town square, would inevitable add to the price. One slightly odd feature of eating out in Prague seems to be a far more relaxed attitude to service- you really need to seek out the wait staff, they often will not come to you. During our first lunch there we were trapped for absolutely ages waiting for anyone to notice us!

If you go to Prague castle, and you should, I would reccomend doing the short tour but getting the long audio guide. The short walk gives you access to slightly over half the buildings (it must be noted that the main attraction, St Vittus' cathedral is entirely free!), but the short audio guide only lasts 2 hours, which really is not enough time unless you want to rush. It's informative enough that it is worth it, although I admit that I fast forwarded through some parts.

Time spent with Alice, was, of course, wonderful, and this was our first long holiday with just the two of us. Prague was a great place for it, and we had a fantastic time, arriving home in time for us to read the guest book and watch a DVD of us on the day.

And then the next day I had to go to Eindhoven....


Monday, June 15, 2009

The Wedding

The wedding day was perfect, and I may take this opportunity to gush occasionally. I had been worried about numerous things that might go wrong, and had decided that as long as the wedding went fine, then I would be happy for the rest of the day. Despite an initial upset in which the photographer, who was meant to appear at about half 1 did not. Cue photos of me pacing around worriedly and not really engaging in conversation of the well wishers who talk to me. He managed to arrive an hour late at Alice's house, having had, as he described it, a senior moment.

Still, it turned out all the same, and the service itself was great (although there was no "you may now kiss the bride" moment, which threw us, and was probably why nobody clapped!). The string quartet were lovely, especially considering some of them met for the first time that morning for a rehearsal. The photography session was fairly painless, and I got to utilise my lungs to gather our rather large families for the shots. Once Gordon Brown (the photographer) was there, he was a professional and got the shots done with a minimum amount of fuss: Alice and I will be having a look at them next weekend, which will be fun. The confetti run was fine, and as predicted, Alice's Aunt Liz did stuff confetti down my shirt (yay. Pam, Alice's mum, also put confetti in Alice's suitcase, which was rather amusing). We went for several laps round the village in the shiny car, amusingly going past some guests more than once, as the community centre was a very short distance from the church.

I maintain that people are wusses about bouquet catching, with a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the ladies, leading to the flowers landing in Laura's hands. Probably the most tiring part of the day followed, in which we said hi, and were congratulated, by around 120 people in a row. Of course we avoided getting burnt in the sun, so that was a plus!

The food was great, really delicious and far too filling (including the amazing chocolate cake provided by the caterer: wow), and the speeches were all good (including mine apparently) and, most important of all, short. The ceilidh went down a storm, as did the adventure playground outside, where a surprising number of people went on it, and Will Wilson managed to hurt himself quite spectacularly.

All in all a wonderful day, and thanks to everyone who took part in making it so, especially our parents.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Random anecdote

In the pub in southampton, in my mini-stag, we discussed magic items from D&D, and the potential to have them in real life. We briefly discussed which item of great power one would like from the world of D and D, someone suggested a vorpal sword. Of course, as I pointed out, the utility of a vorpal sword (a sword with a tendency to slice people's heads off) is less useful in a world where ALL swords can do that.... A lot of magical items in D and D really wouldn't be more useful than their more mundane versions... (+1 longsword for the win!)

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I'm back! (thoughts on the stag do)

So I'm back after a rather large hiatus, which involved getting married and going on honeymoon. And then going to a conference. So all in all, a busy few weeks, leaving me rather tired. Still lots to do- Alice and I have to write many many thank you cards to those who showed us unbelievable generosity. There are an absolutely huge number of photos from the wedding, which is, and was, awesome. I'm going to try to blog in order of experiences, as otherwise I'll get all confused. So first, the stag do.

My best man suggested what seemed a very sensible stag do for myself- to go to Cambridge and crawl round a large amount of pubs. Simple, and effective, it would achieve one of my primary goals for the stag do, which would be to get very, very drunk. I was quite impressed as to the number of friends who managed to attend in the end. As well as most of my friends who lived locally coming, I had 4 friends from further afield travel down, which was great- I think there were about 10 of us in all, which was a good number.

In the end we didn't reach that many pubs, I think including the beer festival we only managed 7 different locations, but we did consume a great amount of alcohol to make up for it. As with all these kind of events, my memories become a lot more hazy towards the end, to the point where it was a bit of a miracle that I was able to guide the taxi to my house (seeing as I was the only one in that cab who knew where it was...).

The pubs were fun, and I drunk a variety of alchohol, saving the shots for the late evening (including a hideous tabasco shot given to me. I can still remember that, even though I was fairly gone at the point of drinking it). The only real disappointment of the day was the beer festival having almost run out of beer by the time (6ish) we arrived. A little annoying, certainly, but there was plenty of beer elsewhere, and we consumed it.

I, of course, paid for this the next day with the mother of all headaches, and being sick about 4 times. I had vaguely recovered by 1, although was exhausted for the rest of the dat.