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Entries in travel (2)

Tuesday
Sep172013

August catch up

Whoops. August and early September kind of got away from me. Things are slowing up again now, so that's something. 

August started with cricket week. I don't actually play any more, so for me it's more umpiring week. This year it rather became golf week, which is a new thing for us. Clarkie decided she would like to take up golf after watching Grandad (91) handily beat his sons (61 and 56). Golf, she reasoned, looked like a game that a) you could keep playing for a long time and b) didn't need 21 other people (assuming the batting teams umpire and score). I was dubious, but she found a taster session advertised for just £4 each, and lo and behold I've got a bit hooked. 

This is fitting - cricket was my maternal grandad's game, golf is my paternal grandad's game. Seems about right to balance them both. I'm not good, but I don't suck quite as much as my only previous experience had lead me to believe I would (Aviemore, aged 15, Dad teaching). So I ended up playing 9 holes with a couple of the other non-players on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, making Clarkie rather jealous. So we went out for 9 holes on the Saturday with two of the other captains. We played at Dymock Grange, which is a nice, cheap course in Gloucestershire. Don't tell anyone though, or it might get busy. 

The Friday of cricket week is now the annual day for dressing up. This year was the first time that the captains revealed the theme a full year in advance, resulting in a distinct leap in costume quality. The theme was children's TV. 

So yes. We went as Noddy and Big Ears (thanks to Jo Beasley for the photo). The car was flat-packed and constructed on site (thanks to Shirley Taylor for the loan of the tent) from cardboard, double-sided tape and duct tape. It's built around two wine boxes, one for each of us. Click here for more photos from construction. The trousers and the two neck scarves are both made from plain yellow fabric and fabric pens. The beard, ears and my hat came as a set. The rest we already owned! Next year's theme is heroes and villains so plans are already being hatched. I have said no cars this time though.

The two weeks between cricket week and my DiGRA trip to Atlanta didn't quite work out as I'd hoped with the running. I picked up a bit of a calf strain, so ended up taking it really easy. I may pay for that, but at least the calf feels a bit better and I did cycle so the fitness shouldn't have taken too much of a hit. 

The trip to Atlanta was interesting. I couldn't afford a nice central hotel, so I had an airport hotel instead. That then left me with the challenge of getting to midtown every day. I made use of the hotel-airport shuttle, and used the MARTA train system to get in from the airport. A few people warned me of the dangers of this, but honestly, compared to the London Underground I found it to be quick, spacious and everyone was very polite. I did skip all the evening activities to avoid using it late at night though. I actually regret being too far out to go running with a couple of the other attendees more than I regret skipping the evening stuff, but there you go. I had a pretty nice room, although they could have done with double glazing for the noise of the planes and the fans/airconditioning from the restaurant outside. 

I ended up having to stay an extra couple of days after the conference ended, because the flights dropped by £600. Yes, I had to pay an extra £80 for the hotel, but I'd bought a 7-day transport pass, so it wasn't so bad. I ended up seeing the World of Coca Cola on the Friday, which I decided was a pretty good record of the popular culture around the brand as much as anything else. I even found a Berliner Bar, so my holidays all linked together nicely (cricket week is in Colwall, which also had a Malvern Water Coca Cola factory until 2010). 

On the Saturday it was time for the Dragon*Con parade. Now, I worked in a comic shop. I'd heard of Dragon*Con. And I've been to Disney, so I've seen parades. But what I got was somewhat more than I bargained for.

31 Aug 2013 20:28

Stormtroopers were what was mentioned to me before the event, and stormtroopers there were. Along with an awful lot of other things, and mashups beyond my wildest imaginings. Muppet stormtroopers? Why yes. 

31 Aug 2013 20:28

As you do. Check out the rest of my pics. That's only a tiny, tiny part of the craziness. It was like the Friday of Cricket Week on steroids. And yes, I did have a moment of wishing I had my Batgirl outfit with me...

So that's August. I think that's enough for now!

Tuesday
May212013

Hither and thither

Well, that was an unintended hiatus. Life has been happening at such a rate of knots around here that when I've stood still long enough to blog I've needed to just collapse! I shall try to fill in some of the highlights.

We went to Berlin at the end of March, for Clarkie's birthday and because we'd not been before. It was chilly, but sunny, and we walked everywhere. It felt like we covered a lot of miles, which was mostly because we did. I found it really interesting, but didn't fall in love with it. We did manage to get to a lovely free viola and piano recital at the Berlin Philharmoniker, and I took lots of photos of bears.

Berliner Bar

(The rest can be found here. Clarkie took much better 'serious' shots here.)

We managed to join my Grandad for his post-birthday golf session in early April. My Grandad is now 91, and still regularly plays at Haywards Heath golf club. By regularly, I mean twice a week for preference, either 9 or 18 holes, walking the whole way. He does now use a motor on his buggy at least. We joined him for a family match, with my Dad and Uncle playing against him, and my Aunt, Clarkie and me caddying. Given the weather we'd had up until then, we had a beautiful day for it even if underfoot was a little boggy. By any way that they tried to add it up, Grandad won.

The Von Martin Family Golfers

(Again, I am extremely grateful for Clarkie's camera work. These are some of the best shots I've ever got of my Grandad.)

At the end of April I was off on my travels again. Paris this time. If only I'd made it to London at some point. This was for a conference. CHI is THE big conference in my research area. I only had a workshop paper in, but it's still the first time I've had to stand up in front of a group of researchers (outside of my lab group) and present, so that was quite important. Fortunately it went pretty well (I think!).

I was staying about 3 miles from the conference near La Defense, and with our previous happy experience of cycling around Paris I decided to take my Brompton rather than figure out public transport. I'm really glad I did, it's such a good little urban bike. And I wasn't the only one who had that idea - the other one (with the white helmet attached) had a "Drakes of Cambridge" sticker.

Two little Bromptons

After Paris, Clarkie picked me up from Ashford and we went straight up to Cambridge for a long weekend with my parents, and my other Uncle and Aunt visited from Australia with my Grandad. I don't seem to have taken any pictures, but it was a fabulous weekend with lots of amazing food (Mum may have been slightly incapacitated after a minor op on her legs, but she still catered magnificently), wine, and great company. On the Sunday I had a lovely run with Denise (who is my aunt by marriage, and only 10 years older than me so she doesn't really like me calling her aunty!). I was thrilled to find that I could keep up and maintain a conversation. To be fair, she's coming back from a serious achilles injury, but still!

Since then, work on the project has been at a real peak. I'm just surfacing from that now, so hopefully (PhD-willing) I'll have slightly more time/energy to blog for a bit. I don't have any more international travel planned until August at least!