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My Tree

March 21st, 2015

A long long time ago I found an acorn next to the reservoir near our house. I carried it all the way home and planted it in my flower patch at the end of the garden. And now look: it grew into a mighty oak tree!

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At the time I planned to build a tree house in it. Unfortunately, the growing process is considerably slower than the planning process.

Although I remember the finding and planting, I had no idea in which year this happened. My mum and I did a bit of detective work using old photographs and it definitely wasn’t there in 1993 but by 1996 it was taller than me. So I reckon it was planted in autumn 1994. Let’s hope it has another 20 years of successful growing…

Aylesbury

March 8th, 2015

Yesterday was unseasonably warm and fine so I headed off for an epic adventure from High Wycombe to previously unvisited county town of Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury. I could have followed the sensible route and headed directly north but that would have been boring. Instead I veered east to visit the pleasant Hertfordshire town of Tring and then tacked back to Aylesbury along an extension of the Grand Union canal.

Unfortunately due to my chronic inability to estimate distance I arrived in Aylesbury rather late and had to rush for a train without exploring, rendering the whole expedition somewhat pointless. What I saw of it appeared to be a larger-than-expected traditional market town. Never mind, perhaps I can return there to start a future adventure: the fabled citadel of Milton Keynes is tantalisingly close…

The highlight of the route was this viewpoint on the top of Coombe Hill. This is the highest point in the Chilterns and you can see right over the Value of Aylesbury beyond. The monument is to casualties of the Second Boer War.

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Another pleasant surprise was Tring reservoirs where I joined the canal and you can see in the last few photos below. Walking along the causeway surrounded by water made quite a change from forests and the whole area was incredibly peaceful at the end of the day.

Nuremberg

March 5th, 2015

So after I’d been to the trade show in Nuremberg I took a day of holiday and did some sight seeing! Nuremberg has a lovely “old” town most was destroyed during the second world war and the rebuilt, although you can’t tell this immediately. Some buildings are original however, such as this cathedral and the merchant house containing the fantastic Stadtmuseum.

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I spent a few hours exploring the castle which dominates the town and also has a pretty good exhibition on the history of Nuremberg as the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The city walls and moat that surround the town are also very picturesque, but you can’t walk on top of them. :(

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I also visited the toy museum (great) and the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus (probably better if you’re German). Both included in the museum day-pass!

On the way back I had a few hours to spare so I stopped off in Frankfurt and spent an hour wandering around in the dark and rain. There wasn’t much to see: it mostly seems to be banks and other offices. The most interesting building I saw was the office of the European Central Bank. Perhaps symbolically, one of the lights in their logo is broken.

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Embedded World

February 28th, 2015

I spent a few days last week at the Embedded World trade show in Nuremberg, Germany. Ostensibly to chat to some suppliers – no one else was available ;-) – but also to check out new technology and the like. It was the first time I’ve been to one of these events and I really enjoyed it, although after a day and a half of traipsing around the enormous convention centre I’d pretty much had enough. Executive summary: Internet of Things, Internet of Things, Internet of THINGS.

Friend Blodgett will be pleased to note that MathWorks are alive and well and touting Matlab to embedded systems developers everywhere!

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As someone who is an avid collector of branded pens and other corporate tat such an event is a very dangerous place. However I managed to exert and a small amount of self control and limited myself to filling one Perforce tote bag with junk. Special mention must go to this pen from computer-on-module vendor Portwell for this beautifully presented pen (and their wonderful logo). Also this arty ruler from PCB manufacturer Circuitive complete with 10% discount voucher on the rear.

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These people are either at the wrong show or demonstrating the terrifying fully automated tractor of the future.

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Circumnavigation of High Wycombe

February 22nd, 2015

Like a modern day Magellan I set off yesterday on an epic quest to circumnavigate High Wycombe. The town is only a few miles north of where I live but I have only ever visited it a handful of times. Having seen it from all sides I have reached the conclusion that it is very hilly: my route had 2.5km of height gain!

Pedants might point out that my route wasn’t actually a circumnavigation, but a real adventurer takes no notice of those people. Just like they shouldn’t listen to weather forecasters who predict cloud and rain: look at the clear sky!

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This is at Harpenden house near the start of my route north of the town.

One of the low points came around mid-afternoon, walking on a messy footpath between the M40 and the local ASDA. But then I went through a dark underpass leading to open fields on the other side. I thought it made an interesting photo:

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New Character

February 15th, 2015

Dear China,

The character 蛋 for “egg” is confusing and illogical! I have recently invented a vastly superior character which I wish to offer royalty-free. If 鸟 “bird” + 山 “mountain” = 岛 “island” then obviously 鸟 + 生 “grow/birth” = “egg” (or perhaps “chick”). I have drawn below: please include in all fonts immediately. kthxbye.

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Happy Cow

February 1st, 2015

I met a really friendly cow while I was out today near reading! Here he is munching on some straw and sinking into the bog.

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I walked around a slightly epic 25 mile loop north of Reading which meant I didn’t get back to Henley until after dark. However, that meant I could test out the the LED head torch I got for Christmas!

The weather was miserable for most of the day: cold, windy and cloudy. But there were some bright moments, like here in the morning in Henley:

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Brown Cheese With Jam

January 31st, 2015

I was in Oslo again this week which is usually a cause for celebration as it’s the only place I know of where you can sample my favourite caramelised cheese by-product: brown cheese! Normally I have a few slices on bread like a regular cheese. This time however I was chatting to a colleague about brown cheese and he said the real Norwegian way was to have it with jam! And oh it’s so good! Brown cheese is strangely sweet so it goes rather well together. Tasty tasty breakfast.

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The weather was pretty horrible most of the time I was there. In a brief break from the snow/rain/sleet I wandered out to take a picture of the opera house.

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I stayed in the same hotel as last time which has epic views over the city.

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A huge public transport innovation has occurred since my last visit: there’s now a ferry from the city centre to the office! It even works with the cashless bus ticket app thingy I used last time. Unfortunately the last sailing in the morning is at 8:30. :-?

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Windsor Castle

January 25th, 2015

I originally visited Windsor castle years ago when I first moved to this area. However I forgot to blog about it. One of the benefits of being a local resident is that you get in for free! A good thing too, as I don’t remember it being that good last time.

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One of the problems with Windsor castle is that large bits of it are often closed. Like St George’s chapel, which the Queen was using last time. However by happy coincidence it was open today and some bits I visited before were closed for renovation. So I think I’ve seen the lot of it now.

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Afterwards I visited the Royal Borough museum in Windsor Guildhall which by some oversight I’d never bothered to go in before. I’m rather fond of the one-room municipal museum and this one is trying its best with a limited collection. However the highlight was a free impromptu guided tour of the rooms upstairs. This is the one where Prince Charles and Camilla got married a few years ago:

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Skiing

January 24th, 2015

I went skiing for a few days earlier this week with work. I’m pretty sure the last time I tried skiing I vowed not to do it again. Unfortunately I forgot that when I signed up to this trip and predictably it was very cold and I fell over a lot. Oh well, at least the spa was fun.

This is where we stayed in Sauze d’Oulx in the Italian Alps.

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Perhaps the best thing about skiing is the Chinese word for it – 滑雪 – literally “slippery snow”, which sounds about right.