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Category Archives: Weekend

This evening Alan & Tracy, Marc & Linda and Steinunn and I are off to The Comedy Store first night of residence at the Rose Theatre. After years of funding problems, The Rose Theatre finally opened this January and is the venue of tonight’s show. The Comedy Store’s band of comedian will pile into the theatre every last Sunday of the month. The line-up tonight is:


Yesterday I checked out the first BarCamp held in Scotland. Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics hosted the event. I listened to some good talks and met some cool folk.

First off, I listened to an american guy with a very loud voice called Henry S. Thompson (gotta love the initial!) who spoke rather excitedly about XML Pipelines. Gotta say I didn’t understand what this was about but was impressed nonetheless. He warned people to stay away from Yahoo Pipes, a cool tool for aggregating and manipulating feeds, for some reason I didn’t get at the time and don’t remember now.

Next off Austin Tate spoke about stuff to do with AI and Second Life. He heads up AIAI and he showed us around the office that’s been set up in Second Life. I have read snippets of info around the web about Second Life but have visited the virtual world myself. Austin spoke of the future, where it’d be possible to set up an intelligent agent to act on your behalf when you’re not on the web. For instance, your agent could pay bills, answer emails and make decisions on your behalf. Setting up something in Second Life is a good way to explore such things. Scary.

Tony Farndon demonstrated Flock, inspiring me to try it out again. I’m writing this blog using Tony’s BlogPlus plug-in. It’s so easy to add links to posts, that’s why there’s so many.

I hung out with James Turnbull who, amongst other things, runs the popular Google Sightseeing blog. He was evangelising Django, a web framework running atop of Python that I really must check out one day.

I caught a few more talks and finished up listening to Morna Findlay, the School of Informatics schools’ liaison officer. Morna was trying to find out why there has been a sharp decline in students applying for university computer related courses. She divulged that, for Edinburgh University, the intake for computer related degree programmes has halved in actual numbers since 2001, even though there has been an overall rise in the number of students attending university. The general consensus in the room was that schools curriculums were to blame. Pupils tend to think that computer related degrees will involve learning how to use word processors and spreadsheets, just basic office applications, rather than getting down to the nitty-gritty of theory, programming, application design and all the good stuff. Also, I tend to agree with what James Turnbull said about experience is more important to employers than 3 years stuck at university, even though I value the deeper understanding a student will get from a degree.

Then we headed next door to Teviot for some free beers. I met the guys from, who were very switched on, answered effortlessly any questions that were thrown at them about groopit. John Sutherland succinctly described groopit as Twitter on speed. Best of luck to them and I recommend you sign-up now, even though they’re still in beta.

Before I knew it, it was 10:30pm and beer vouchers had run out and it was time to leave. May be next time BarCamp is in town I will have something to contribute now that I have seen how things are done.


During the past month the public have been able to get into sites and buildings every weekend for free. From Corstorphine Police Station to Lothian Buses PLC, these are just two examples of the types of sites opened up for public viewing in Edinburgh. Plenty of churches, schools and University of Edinburgh buildings also granted public access.

Steinunn and I visited the Anatomy Lecture Theatre and Anatomy Resource Centre in the University’s medical building but unfortunately most of the exhibition was closed due to unforeseen circumstances. We did see 2 African elephants’ skeletons and five or so female pelvises. Each pelvis had been taken from women who had died during or shortly after giving birth.

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Last night I was a tad bored so styled my blog. It still needs some work regarding colour choices, banner size, etc… but it looks good enough. Someone mentioned that the blog is too dark now, but I think I like it black rather than white. Perhaps, over time, I’ll introduce colour back into the blog. It’s good to start of from a base though and there’s no rush. Who really cares?

One recommendation I received was to add a left and right border to break away from the black. I’ll think I’ll do this right now just after I’ll tell you about my day so far.

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Last Friday, Steinunn and I travelled to Brighton via Gatwick airport to attend my sister’s handfasting to her partner. Handfasting involves tying together the hands of the bride and groom. The union typically lasts a year and a day, and once over, the couple will remain together permanently or go their separate ways. My sister said a further two ceremonies happen if the couple stay together. The first signifies a life together and includes a tightening of the knot tied in the initial ceremony and the final ceremony symbolises a union that lasts for eternity.

Mike and Liz WeddingOver 40 guests attended the ceremony behind the Manor House in Stanmer Park. We shared the space behind the house with a bunch of kids who were being filmed by Channel 4 for some TV show. After a mad rush erecting the gazebo, layout out the food, levelling the tables ensuring the food wouldn’t slip off, and rescuing the chocolate wedding cake, the guests assembled in a circle under a canopy of trees, all holding hands. Elizabeth and Mike entered the circle and walked around the guests ending up behind the altar, facing the high priestess (or witch). The witch, Mike’s sister led the ceremony, which involved the couple saying their vows whilst at knife point. Okay, it was a dagger, a good looking dagger at that. Once all had been said and the groom kissed the bride, the guests, still holding hands, walked clockwise around the couple for about a minute.

After the congratulating the couple, the wrap was taken off the food and a large picnic was eaten by all. Yum. And did I mention the wedding cake was chocolate? It was delicious too, though after all grub I’d eaten beforehand, I could only manage one slice. There were lots of kids to keep Zack and Pixie company and they spent most of the afternoon playing in the trees, making camps and bouncing the aerobee of people and trees.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. A day where everything went to plan, a very relaxed plan. Having a wedding outside beneath trees, encircled by your closest friends and family, with a blue sky and chocolate cake to look forward was just perfect. Oh, and the bride and groom looked fantastic too. I never knew my sister could don a beautiful wedding dress like that.

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We've just returned to Edinburgh from a day out in Glasgow's West End. Despite being hungover, which seldom happens these days, we got to Byres Road in time for the opening parade of the mardi gras. After tiring of the samba drums, we headed over to the Mela Festival (Asian Festival) in Kelvingrove Park, and found ourselves in a dance tent, which from a distance sounded like some cool bhangra beats, but on closer inspection was an endless conveyor belt of samba drum groups playing over a bhangra beat, the very same samba beats we thought we'd left behind in the West End.

I was hoping for some yummy Asian food of any description but none was to be found. Instead we settled for a burger and undercooked chips from a dodgy burger van. Steinunn got a henna tattoo drawn on her hand. I'm sure she'll scan her hand soon enough to show you all. A good day, and I think the hottest day I've experienced in Scotland too.

About 6000 people just run down the street below our flat. All these folk were taking part in the Bupa sponsored fun run, which was in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

This inspired us, after a bit of mutual encouragement, to go on a run ourselves. We’ve set a goal of completing a non-stop run around the perimeter of the Meadows in a eight week’s time. I think we’ll complete this target earlier if we stick to running twice a week.

hoto of the Bupa fun run taken from the flat windowHaving just returned from our first “training session”, we completed a run around the Meadows, slowing 6 times along the away to a walking pace, and starting up again once we had gained our breath back. For me, running out of breath isn’t too much of a problem, it’s my ankles and feet that ache because of my mis-shaped flat feet. It’s about time I go see a specialist who can sought my feet out once and for all. For too long now I have suffered pain anytime I run for more than minute, which is very frustrating when trying to get fit.

Just before we climbed up Arthur's Seat Steinunn needed the loo. Where better to go for a pee than the new Scottish Parliament, a building that looks quite pathetic placed opposite Holyrood Palace and below the sheer heights of Arthur's Seat.

We took an alternative, rather steep route up towards Arthur's Seat, yet didn't venture to the top. Instead we headed for a pond below, dotted with a few swans and some ducks. Earlier today, a guy on the radio recounted a tale of when he was attacked by a lone swan on a canal. Somehow the guy ended up in the water, after which the swan proceeded to climb on top of him to force his head under. At the time, the guy was struggling for his life, but can now look back and see the funny side. Anyone and everyone he told his story to would laugh, as, I guess, it sounds ridiculous and conjures up comedy pictures in the head. In contrast, his story about a confrontation with a red back spider in the Australian outback serves only respect.

When I was in Australia, every place you go has death running below the surface. Sharks and jellyfish in the ocean, spiders and snakes on the land, crocodiles in the rivers, and cassowaries (the world's most dangerous bird, according to the Guiness Book of Records) in the forest. I encountered feral pigs, actually they were more like wild boar, in the forest with razor sharp teeth, known to have gone for people's legs. Also there's the risk of hitting cows, camels or kangaroos at breakneck speed whilst driving through the outback, especially at night. And then there's the powerful surf along the east and west coast, which can suck you under, spin you around, knock you out on the seabed, before spitting you back up. Add to the mix the man-made dare devil sports like bungee and sky diving and you can see why Australia is so popular. What do we have in the UK that could possibly kill us? Swans, mad cow disease, MRSA, grass snakes, a kick in the head from an angry horse. Acually, grass snakes don't kill do they?

There is a certain lack of natural dangers or predators in this country, but the yobs, thugs and hooligans you can find somewhere in every town and city up and down the country help to recreate the fear factor of swimming in possibly shark infested water.

Back to today, we finished the walk after two hours and popped into a tea room at the bottom of the Royal Mile. The peppermint teapot for 2 was good, as well as the smoked mackerel salad I had for lunch. Steinunn was being a bit critical about the way the tea room was run, which includes remarks about the wrong napkin holders, the cheapo teacups, the daido rail, the signage, the roadworks outside… I'm sure there's more.

Walked to Princes Street in an attempt to buy a jacket for Steinunn at H & M but it was far too busy so we walked home, very slowly as my legs were dead. On the way back, I had to move my car to a different street as the Bupa fun run in on tomorrow, which will pass through our street below.