Thursday, 30 June 2011

Off the Rails, On the Road

Dear diary...

The week started with a train ride up to Bonnie Scotland. Edinburgh in fact. The train was packed with people lugging heavy suitcases - ye gods, how did those poor people manage in the 1950s and 60s with those tiny flat leather suitcases? At least in the 1930s and 40s they had trunks. Not the swimming kind you understand... those knitted wooly things with a gusset that hung down to your knees once wet would have been useless for carrying clothes about on holiday. These days though people drag hard plastic cases of the size you might see on the back of a lorry having just brought it from the port. Anyway there were lots of those on the train. And the journey was enlivened by a loud American telling a woman, who insisted her dog had to have a seat, how to react when coming face to face with bears, moose and wolves. All of which roam the streets of Edinburgh I expect...

I was staying in the Travelodge on St Mary Street which has the advantage over lots of Travelodges that it has a place to eat in. Not that I used it at night but it did mean I got a breakfast on the two days I was working in Edinburgh!

At night I mooched along the Royal Mile and ate both nights in a Garfunkels. The prospect of an Eastern European trying to explain to a German couple what mushy peas are was quite amusing. He obviously had no idea apart from the main ingredient... Just for the record, you do not prepare them like mashed potatoes... Although just down the road a bit they prepare Mars Bars like fish and chips I suppose...

Anyway I arrived home by another train which was much less crowded on Wednesday night in time to hear about the cat having been taken ill on top of my desk (note to colleagues - that's why I had to ask for replacement memory sticks to be sent...) We may have to replace the telephone too... Luckily the puddle didn't reach as far as the computer!

Then today I've been in Manchester at the JISC Regional Support Centre Northwest's annual conference held this year at Manchester University. Nice car too - the hire company dropped off a brand spanking new Hyundai i30 with only 19 miles on the clock. I haven't smelt that new car smell since I was a lad and Dad bought a new Mark 1 Escort in the 60s.

Once in Manchester I found the car park dead easy, despite only asking Chrissie where we were late last night once she was already tipsy! "I'll be there from half seven! she said.
"I won't..." I responded wittily.

Found the campus map dead easy. Alas someone had been round all the campus maps, knicking the red dot and the "You are here" sign. Coupled with the reluctance of local authorities to pay for street name signs - or the reluctance of owners of new buildings to allow them to be sullied with street name signs - that made finding where I was going rather more difficult than it should have been. It was the Barnes Wallis Building, but whichever way I looked I couldn't see a building with water pouring from a breech in the wall...

There were only a few exhibitors besides myself and the stand that probably got most notice was this one with the massive screen with a new material that could be stuck to either plastic or glass and allowed you to project either from the front or rear.

They were showing a video loop taken in some huge aquarium in Okinawa which included several whale sharks swimming about. I couldn't help thinking how brilliant it would be though to have your mates round for a bar-b-que and sit lolling in the garden whilst your entire bedroom window showed Lord of the Rings...

And now I'm in Telford again - it's becoming a second home as I try to stay in every single room in this Premier Inn near the station. The travel should start to dry up for a few weeks now as summer approaches and college and university staff start to think about holidays. Tomorrow I shall be teaching some eager folks all about Managing Multiple Projects in a Complex Environment.

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