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The Words of the Sledge
steve@einval.com

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    Wednesday, 01 July 2015

    Quick trip to Sweden

    Jo and I spent a few days in Sweden and had an awesome time! The main reason for being there was Leif and Maria's wedding way up north in Skellefteå. They cunningly organised their ceremony for the Midsummer weekend, which was an excellent plan - we had a full weekend of partying while we were there. :-)

    the happy couple

    We had some time to ourselves while we were there, so we wandered about a little and got to see some of the beautiful coastal countryside.

    Trundön

    Then on the way home we stopped off in Umeå to visit Mattias Wadenstein (maswan) and his wife Melanie, and he showed me around some of the machines that he's been admining on behalf of Debian. Maybe I'm a sad geek, but I feel quite a bond with one of the machines there, pettersson.debian.org. It's the official CD build machine for Debian, and I've been responsible for thrashing it really hard for the last 5 years or so... :-)

    Pettersson and friends

    Massive thanks to the University of Umeå and their Academic Computer Club for hosting Debian machines and serving all the CD images for us!

    maswan and a lot of disks

    The only downsides from the trip were the massive tiredness (midnight sun is pretty, but notconducive to sleep!) the mosquito bites and the nasty plague^Wcold that we picked up while we were there... Ah well. :-)

    01:06 :: # :: /travel :: 0 comments

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    Tour of Australia

    Jo and I just got back from our massive holiday in Australia. We had an awesome time overall, fitting in lots of stuff in 4 weeks. Time for a quick write-up and some photos!

    Ayers Rock

    We flew into Sydney, then straight onto Uluru for the obligatory sunset and sunrise viewings. We didn't climb the Rock, both for sensitivity reasons and (to be more honest!) it looked way too much like hard work in 40-plus degree heat.

    Ghan train

    Coach over to Alice Springs, where we had a very quick look around before taking the Ghan train down to Adelaide. The train was fun for a day, and we got to see a lot of desert. In Adelaide, we had a look around the city (lovely colonial feel!) and got a couple of evenings in fun comedy shows at the Fringe. Great fun!

    Cuddling a sleepy wombat!

    On to Tasmania, where we did a quick (3 days) run around the island by car: into Hobart, up the east coast. Stopped in Swansea (a nice version!) for some heavenly Devonshire teas, then on up to Grindelwald near Launceston. Visited Trowunna Wildlife Park to see (and cuddle!) lots of local animals, which was amazing - Jo's favourite day of the holiday. Then on to Queenstown and drive back down to Hobart past some impossibly beautiful views around Cradle Mountain. Tassie's gorgeous - like the best bits of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall but with even fewer people and better weather.

    Sydney Opera House

    Next, on to Sydney for Harry and Cath's wedding. We stayed up in Chatswood. Not knowing anything about the area beforehand, we were a little surprised to basically find ourselves back in Hong Kong! We spent most of the weekend catching up with friends from the wedding group, and the wedding itself was at Quarantine Station, overlooking the harbour. It couldn't have been a more perfect location / weather / view for our friends' big day! We squeezed in a couple of the open-top bus tours of Sydney on the Sunday, but got caught in the horrendous storm that hit and ended up sheltering downstairs under cover on the bus. I'm told Bondi is lovely, but it all looked grey from the bus. :-P

    Puffing Billy, Yarra Valley

    Down to Melbourne on the train (bit of a wasted day, in hindsight), where we wandered around the city quite a bit. Caught up with an old friend who lives there for a day, and we did a wine tour up the Yarra Valley which was fun too.

    Snorkelling at the Reef - all OK!

    Up to Port Douglas, where we headed out to the Reef for my highlight of the holiday: a snorkelling tour with some local marine experts who showed us the local flora and fauna. We also visited a local Aboriginal cultural centre, skyrail and scenic railway around Kuranda village.

    Koala! :-)

    Down to Hervey Bay and a 1-day tour of Fraser Island - an amazing place in combination with quite a thrill-ride experience just being driven around on the sand tracks. Finally, down to Brisbane where we wandered around and visited both the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (more cuddles!) and the Gold Coast. Then the long flights home. Whew!

    We're knackered now. We knew we could't fit everything in, but we're glad we travelled all over and got tastes of almost everything. Now we can work out where we want to spend more time on our future visit(s). We'll definitely want to head over and see Perth and some of WA next time, and definitely more time in Tasmania, Sydney and Adelaide.

    15:24 :: # :: /travel :: 0 comments

    Friday, 28 September 2012

    Anniversary trip to Scotland

    Back at the beginning of September, Jo and I were invited up to Aberdeen for a weekend for a party to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of some friends. Then we decided to stay around for a few days - it was our 1st anniversary just two days later. :-)

    We had a great time at the party, and had some awesome weather for the weekend (especially considering the time of year!). We travelled around a bit for the next few days, visiting Crathes Castle, John O' Groats and Culloden amongst other places. We stayed in a hotel overlooking Loch Ness for the evening of our own anniversary, but no sign of Nessie! We headed back via Gretna Green and visited the famous (if tacky!) Blacksmith's there, then headed home. Having done both Land's End and John O' Groats in one year, we've covered the length of Great Britain.

    We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for a few days, especially the lovely roads with very few people on them! Also we got to see some very unusual road signs that made us chuckle...

    Stanes!

    Otters!

    We'll definitely go back again soon!

    16:59 :: # :: /travel :: 0 comments

    Monday, 04 June 2012

    Small children on long-haul flights...

    ...should be banned. On the flight back from Hong Kong to London, a collection of about half a dozen small children conspired to cry, shout, wail and shriek nigh-on constantly. For twelve hours. :-(

    I think it's incredibly selfish to take kids on planes when they're too young to understand what's going on, or to behave reliably. Children make noise, that's natural and expected. Forcing hundreds of other people around you to deal with that noise in an enclosed space for extended periods with no way to escape is just wrong, in my opinion.

    </rant>

    22:20 :: # :: /travel :: 21 comments

    Wandering around Hong Kong

    Jo and I flew in to HK a few days early for the Linaro conference, so we got some time to ourselves for doing touristy stuff. That was a good plan - we got to see quite a lot of Kowloon for a couple of days, then we wandered over to Hong Kong island itself for a day. Jo also had more time during the week while I was in the sessions at the conference.

    Hong Kong is a busy place, very densely packed at all times of day and night that we could see. The first impression we got on the taxi from the airport on day one was that it was a city full of tower blocks - huge numbers of apartments stacked very closely together for living space. That makes sense, I guess, with the large population in such a small space. There are houses around with more space for people to live, but they are understandably very expensive.

    Later on in Kowloon, we got to meet lots of the local street vendors, mostly offering us "Copy Rolex", "Fake handbag" and the like. Even "Sharp trousers" at one point. We decided not to try them out... :-) We saw lots and lots of very expensive shops downtown, crammed into huge shopping centres in the tourist area. As an antidote for all of that, we headed up to the "Golden Computer Arcade" to go browsing around the vast array of tiny technology stalls and shops there. Picked up some nice cheap laptop memory and some SD cards there. Yay!

    Across on Hong Kong island itself on Sunday, we found my grandfather's grave then rode around on the trams for a while to get a good view of the city, including a democracy protest that happened to be on that day! We had a quick look around Tin Hau Temple, where we found a very specific set of rules for visitors:

    temple rules

    I can only guess that they must have been terrified by gangs of kids racing their RC cars at one point!

    We finished the day by heading up to Victoria Peak for the sunset view and some dinner, then back to the hotel. Killing time in a shopping centre waiting for the bus to turn up, we found a truly astonishing little item on sale, a Solar Queen!

    solar queen

    Apparently this gift has a solar panel on the handbag to provide power to a little motor in the Queen's hand to make her wave to her subjects. We decided that we'd somehow have to live without such a delight in our lives... :-)

    HK was a cool place to visit. It still feels very British in some ways, as you'd expect from an ex-colony (power sockets are still the same as ours, driving on the left, everybody spoke English, etc.) but utterly alien in others (the climate, working public transport *grin*). I look forwards to heading out there again!

    22:12 :: # :: /travel :: 0 comments