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Weird Sunset and a Relocation

October 13th, 2018

So I decided to take a job doing open source-y things for a certain well-known CPU vendor. More on that in the future, maybe. But as part of that I relocated to Shanghai. Now I live up here in the sky:

Some apartment blocks and things

Last weekend there was mini-typhoon. It rained a lot and then there was this really strange sunset.

I didn’t notice the construction site when I viewed the apartment

Virgin Upper Class Review

September 30th, 2018

All those years travelling around for Cisco finally paid off when I used 67000 air miles plus £365 tax to buy a one-way “upper class” (Virgin Atlantic’s first class) ticket London Heathrow to Shanghai. Is first class better than economy? OMG yes. Is it worth the £5300 list price? Probably not.

My life of luxury started in the special check in area for special people (3x 32kg baggage allowance!) and a private elevator to the fast-track security channel. No need to shout “out of the way plebs!” as there was a screen to hide the regular passengers.

Virgin Atlantic lounge

I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in Heathrow Terminal 3 but this time I deliberately arrived over four hours early and went straight to the exclusive Virgin lounge upstairs. OMG it was good. The seats were so comfy and the decoration was very classy and all the food was FREE. I had this salad and fish for lunch. Felt like a right doofus for paying £10 for breakfast in the hotel before I came to the airport.

Totally free lunch

The toilets were so luxurious! They had proper hand towels and everything. Not like the regular airport toilets on the floor below.

Nice toilet

Eventually I boarded the plane via the special people channel and went right to my window seat at the front of the plane.

My seat

I say “window” seat. It’s actually rather difficult to look out they window as you need to crane your neck awkwardly to the side: the seat actually points diagonally into the cabin. I found this most strange when the plane took off as the acceleration pushes you in a weird direction. But the side panels mean you can’t see any other passengers, which I rather liked.

In-flight meal

The food was excellent (why am I eating fish again?!) and served on proper plates with proper cutlery. This was actually my favourite part, makes such a big difference to eating out of a miserable plastic tray in economy. And if you want tea they bring it to you an a proper mug, and after you finish and ask for a refill they’ll be like “do you want a biscuit with that??!”. OMG yes please. Service.

Fully flat bed

After dinner it’s time for bed! The seat folds into a fully flat bed and there’s a duvet and sheets hidden behind. They even give you pyjamas if you want. I don’t think I slept that well, and it didn’t help that the flight landed at 3am UK time, but I’ve flown on VS250 soo many times in economy and I always arrived exhausted and nauseous, but after 12 hours in upper class, I just felt a bit tired.

And the breakfast was fantastic too

Ignoring the price, I’d give the whole experience 10/10. I think maybe I’d be prepared to pay 2-3x the economy fare, but at close to 10x it’s a little outside my regular budget. 🙁

Mysterious Key

August 30th, 2018

I’ve been carrying this key around with me for at least 10 years, since I lived in York. I’m pretty sure I’ve not used it in that time, and have completely forgotten what it’s for. It’s possible it opened the padlock on the storage room we used when moving student houses, or perhaps I misappropriated it from one of those houses. Surely one of the great mysteries of our time.

Do YOU recognise this key??

Winchelsea

August 24th, 2018

I was at home visiting my parents last weekend and decided to go out for a walk eastwards through the marshes towards Rye. But I didn’t make it that far and ended up in the ancient village of Winchelsea.

The Church is worth a visit as it’s very picturesque, and Spike Milligan is buried in the graveyard. The day was just a bit too gloomy to be enjoyable though, and the bleak marshland landscape didn’t help.

Winchelsea church

While I was out I met a lunatic. He announced “this is the year!” and then proceeded to tell me all about how Qanon is right about everything and something I didn’t quite follow about feminists. I think he was from 4chan.

Near where I met Qanon’s representative

Why is Everything Yellow

August 10th, 2018

I’m back in the UK now but somehow things seem … different. When I left Heathrow in February it was snowing and around freezing. Now it’s 30+ degrees and all the grass has turned yellow. Weird.

Somewhere near Marlow

Went for a walk the other day between Loudwater and Henley. Just following the Chiltern Way like I did way back in 2011.

I have to admit the new scenery is rather photogenic, and the complete lack of mud is a welcome bonus.

Henley park

Barry Chuckle

August 5th, 2018

Was sad to hear Barry Chuckle, the shorter Chuckle Brother, died today. 1990s CBBC wouldn’t have been the same without endless repeats of ChuckleVision. And some of the jokes are surprisingly still funny (ish)!

Hong Kong

August 4th, 2018

I spent a few days in Hong Kong on my way back to the UK. Can’t remember how many times I’ve been here now, feels like a lot…

Street in Kowloon

The temperature is about the same as the UK, fortunately all the buildings have air-con.

Sunset by the harbour

On the second day it was a bit rainy and cooler which seemed suitable for a little hike. I did this route to Kowloon peak.

Kowloon in the mist

I wouldn’t really recommend it as it’s mostly just dull road, apart from a brief section where I took the photo above, and once I got to the top everything was hidden by cloud. Reminded me of that time I went hiking in Taipei. Although the information panel below suggests it’s quite scenic here in good weather.

Scenic spot (maybe)

Not Paris

June 19th, 2018

China has a bit of a thing for building extravagant replicas of western landmarks. One I found out about recently is this Paris-alike in the outer suburbs of Hangzhou, complete with Eiffel tower.

And these residential buildings modelled on the Champs Elysees. I actually rather like it, it transforms what would otherwise be an utterly unremarkable suburb into a mini tourist hotspot. And it’s probably quite fun to live in too.

Shanghai apparently has “Thames town” which is modelled on a traditional English market town, so might have to visit that some day too.

All Rain All The Time

June 3rd, 2018

I’ve discovered something very important about the summer here: every day it’s either 30+ degrees, or raining, or both. This rather limits the potential for outdoor activities so I’ve been going to a lot of museums recently. Which is a shame because I actually found some really good places west of Hangzhou to go hiking.

On Saturday it was raining less than usual and only 20-odd degrees so seemed perfect to go out of a walk. There’s a network of well-maintained paths that connect all the mountain ridges here. An information board said there’s 108km of them, but I got pretty tired after a few hours due to the extreme amount of up-and-down.

The route I was on links up with the Lingyin temple I visited back in March, so you could take the cable car up/down if you’re feeling lazy.

Carefully Slide

May 28th, 2018

Here’s an interesting machine translation fail I’ve seen a few times recently.

Actually “carefully slide” is a valid translation of 小心地滑, but presumably the sign writer meant something like “careful, slippery floor”.

小心 means “careful” and 滑 is either a verb meaning “to slide” or an adjective meaning “slippery” depending on the context. The problem is the character 地 in the middle, which if pronounced like is a noun meaning “ground”, but if pronounced like de is a special grammatical particle that connects adverbs to verbs (it’s a bit like -ly in English). So you can either read it like careful-ground-slippery or careful-ly-slide.

Interestingly I tried just now and Baidu gave me “Caution! Wet Floor!” and Google gave me “Caution: Slippery”, so I guess technology has improved a bit.