Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

Santa Clara 2017 diary: Day 2

Monday, 12 June, 2017

Sunday, 4 June, 2017

I had a somewhat restless sleep, but dozed until about 09:00, before getting up and having a shower. I took it easy and checked various things on the Internet, eating an apple and a banana for a light breakfast. Around 10:30 I decided to go for a walk to stretch my legs and find some place to sit and then get lunch before returning to the hotel. I walked over to Rivermark Village again, being the closest place with likely establishments. I’d seen a burger place and bar there yesterday and though I could sit there and use the WiFi, which would hopefully be better than the hotel’s.

I arrived a bit before 11:00, to find the burger place was just about to open, and there was a queue of people waiting outside. I found a shady spot to wait, then went in once the queue had gone. It looked like a full on restaurant with lots of booth tables, and waiting to be seated. Also, trying my phone, I couldn’t find a WiFi signal. So I left and looked for something else.

Veggie scramble
Veggie scramble for lunch

I settled on the same bakery where I’d had the raspberry vanilla slice yesterday, The Prolific Oven. It also did cafe food, and was serving late breakfasts. So I sat inside and ordered a “veggie scramble”, which was scrambled eggs with chopped zucchini, tomato, onion, and mushrooms, served with a hash brown and a slice of toast. There was no salt or pepper on the table, but there was a bottle of Tabasco sauce, so I added some of that. It was reasonably good. I sat and used their WiFi for a while, just taking it easy.

Read more: visiting Andy for board games all afternoon, having American pizza, and American ice cream for dessert

Santa Clara 2017 diary: Day 1

Monday, 12 June, 2017

Saturday, 3 June, 2017. 10:44

I’m sitting on a Caltrain train heading south from Millbrae (near San Francisco Airport) towards Lawrence, where I’ll be getting off and walking to my hotel for this trip, the Biltmore Hotel and Suites in Santa Clara.

My flight left Sydney at 13:00 on Saturday, and landed here in San Francisco just before 09:30 the same day, thanks to crossing the date line. The flight was uneventful, and reasonably comfortable with my exit row seat. The couple sitting next to me were Sean and Bridget, staying in San Francisco for five days before heading to Chicago for a friend’s wedding, then going on to Washington D.C., New York, and Toronto before heading home.

I met Abhishek at Sydney Airport after he had realised from a Facebook post of mine that I was also flying to San Francisco. It turned out he was on the same flight, heading over for business with his new company, Dolby. So we arranged to meet up at the airport. He is staying here longer than me, and up in San Francisco proper for a while before heading down to Sunnyvale, but we might manage to meet up for a dinner on Thursday night.

I used some time at the airport before Abhi arrived, and some time on the flight, to draw some panels for Eavesdropper. After eating the beef brisket lunch on the plane, I tried to rest and close my eyes until the breakfast service coming into San Francisco. I didn’t really sleep, but am feeling not too tired at the moment.

Sea of cloud
Sea of clouds. In flight to San Francisco

Read more: arriving in Santa Clara, seeing someone get arrested, going for a walk to the local shops, a surprising vanilla slice, and dinner at the hotel bar

London 2016 diary: Day 3

Friday, 2 June, 2017

Wednesday, 28 September, 2016. 16:16

I’m sitting in The Pilot pub, having one of their specially infused gins and tonics. They have a range of four of these, and I chose the plum and cinnamon, which tastes pretty good. Our ISO meeting has ended a full day early thanks to some quick sessions and an incredibly short lunch break today. Which means I now have tomorrow completely free to explore London.

I got to sleep easily, but woke up at 02:30, and then had trouble falling asleep again. I got up a bit after 05:00 and did some stretching exercises and checked various Internet things, before calling M. on Facetime for a chat. After that I had a shower and then went down for breakfast. Rather than fill up on hot food, I went for just muesli with fruit and yoghurt, followed by a plain croissant.

Christ Church, Turnham Green
Christ Church, Turnham Green, Chiswick

Breakfast was done and I was ready to go a bit before 08:00. Rather than sit around waiting, I decided to go for a walk down the Chiswick High Road. The sky was only partly cloudy, and the morning sun was giving the street a wonderful light as I walked east towards Turnham Green. The black stone Christ Church on the green looked pretty in the light, and I walked around it taking photos.

Read more: wandering around Chiswick, rapid fire technical meeting, then checking out the Chiswick High Road again for dinner

London 2016 diary: Day 2

Thursday, 1 June, 2017

Tuesday, 27 September, 2016. Evening

I had a good, solid sleep for much of the night, and woke up around 06:00, although it was still dark outside so I thought it was still the middle of the night. But after trying to sleep for a bit I checked the time and it was 06:20, so I’d had a pretty good sleep.

I got up and had a shower and dressed, then waited until 07:00 when M. got home so we could talk a little bit on Facetime. And then after that I went down to the restaurant for breakfast.

I started with a plate of sausage, grilled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, tiny roasted potatoes, baked beans, and scrambled eggs. As I finished that, Dietmar arrived and joined me. While he got a plate of hot food, I went back and grabbed some muesli, sprinkling on sunflower seeds and adding some chopped fruit to have with one of the jars of yoghurt. Over breakfast Dietmar said he was planning to drive up to Glasgow on Thursday evening straight after the meeting closed, for some vacation time in Scotland.

On returning to my room, I discovered that I’d left my key card in the light switch slot inside the room, so I had to go down to reception and get a new one. Then I did some stretching exercises in my room, before leaving about 08:20 to walk over to the British Standards Institute building for the ISO meeting. The weather was chilly, but I was only walking a couple of hundred metres and my jacket was enough for that.

At the office, a lady at ground floor reception gave me a visitor swipe card and told me to go up to BSI reception on the first floor. Doing so, another lady there took the card and gave me another visitor card, and told me to go back down to the ground floor, where the meeting room was! The security here at BSI is a bit convoluted.

After settling into the meeting room and greeting other committee members for the first time since the New York meeting, we got stuck into business. Margaret is not here this time, but Ken Parulski is, who I haven’t seen since the meeting in Sapporo last year. I also got to meet the British representative, Hani, who I’ve heard about but haven’t met before. Also new here is Nicolas Touchard of DxO in France, Norman Koren from Imatest in Boulder, Colorado, and Robin Jenkin from a sensor manufacturer in San Jose, although he’s originally from Cornwall.

The Pilot
The Pilot pub, Chiswick

Read more: pub lunch, afternoon technical meetings, then an early dinner in another pub I found

London 2016 diary: Day 1

Thursday, 1 June, 2017

This was a business trip I made back in September 2016 – just getting to writing it up and adding photos now!

Monday, 26 September, 2016. 20:45

I have arrived in London after a 24 hour flight from Sydney, leaving at 16:00 on Sunday, and arriving here at 07:00 on Monday.

The flight was fairly eventless, helped by having a half empty plane on each leg, from Sydney to Dubai, and also Dubai to London. The exit row aisle seat next to me was empty on both flights, so I moved over to leave an empty middle seat between me and the guy in the window seat. He was named Steve and returning home to Plymouth after six weeks touring Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

I didn’t really sleep at all, but since I arrived in the morning, I wanted to stay awake all day until bed time. I checked into the Clayton Hotel Chiswick just before 09:00, after a three train journey from Heathrow to Gunnersbury, changing at Acton Town and then at Turnham Green. Work booked last night for me as well so I could check in early, and the rate includes breakfast, so the woman at reception told me I could go grab breakfast in the hotel restaurant right away!

Clayton Hotel Chiswick view
View from my hotel room window, Clayton Hotel Chiswick

Read more: sightseeing on my free day, the Old Royal Naval College, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Observatory, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Southwark Cathedral, and a pub meal dinner

Europe 2016 diary: day 14 and 15

Monday, 22 May, 2017

Friday, 11 November, 2016

We woke up a bit after 07:00 and got organised for leaving Nice. M. had a shower before we headed out for breakfast, but I decided to delay mine until after we’d eaten. We went out again to Boulangerie Blanc, where I tried the pain au chocolat after M. had said it was incredibly good yesterday, perhaps the best one she’d ever had. She had one too, and a cappuccino, while I also added a plain croissant but no drink today. The croissant was good, but the pain au chocolat was amazing. Warm, buttery, flaky, and filled with delicious melted dark chocolate. Oh my goodness, yes, it was the best one I’ve ever had anywhere.

Blanc cakes
Cakes and pastry selection at Boulangerie Blanc

Before leaving Blanc, we bought some baguette sandwiches to take to the airport to eat for lunch there, since our flight left at 14:30. We figured this was much preferable to having to buy lunch at the airport. M. picked the only vegetarian option, which was chevre with salad and walnuts. I chose a smoked salmon sandwich. The lady wrapped them for us in waxed paper and gave us an optional plastic bag for an extra five euro cents.

Read more: Travelling to the airport and the flight home

Europe 2016 diary: day 13

Monday, 22 May, 2017

Thursday, 10 November, 2016

We woke up in a leisurely fashion as the sun came up around 07:00. This morning we did not have a breakfast included in our hotel stay, so after showering we set out to a boulangerie we’d seen yesterday called Boulangerie Blanc. It had good looking pastries and cakes and bread, and a few tables around the back. M. got a pain au chocolat, while I liked the look of the almond croissants on display so chose one of those. M. got a cappuccino, while I had a hot chocolate. It was all good, the pastries especially so. M. said it might have been the best pain au chocolat she’s ever had, and my almond croissant was nutty and rich and delicious.

Monkey enjoying an almond croissant
Breakfast at Boulangerie Blanc

After this relatively simple breakfast, we returned to our hotel briefly to freshen up and collect my camera gear for some walking around Nice. We crossed over to the beach to have a look at that first, with the morning sun making the scene very picturesque. There were a couple of people in the water, with one old man lying on the pebbles at the surf line and letting the waves wash over him. A group of other men were nearby, peeling off clothes to reveal swimming gear.

Read more: Climbing the hill to the Castle of Nice, the old cemetery, flea market, a relaxing afternoon in a cafe, sunset along the beach, and dinner in the best restaurant in Nice!

Europe 2016 diary: day 12

Sunday, 7 May, 2017

Wednesday, 9 November, 2016. 14:22

We woke up around 07:00, after I had a better sleep, which was nice. We cleaned up and went for breakfast in the hotel restaurant again. I had muesli topped with fresh fruit and some dried figs, with yoghurt. I didn’t feel like anything else, so had two of the small bowls of this. M. ate some slices of bread with Nutella before getting some cereal with milk. She also asked for a cappuccino made upstairs at the bar, rather than getting one from the push button coffee machine in the buffet, since the one she’d had from there yesterday wasn’t very good, and the bar made them better. She also made me a pot of tea from the selection, seeing that they had a peppermint and liquorice blend. It tasted pepperminty but the liquorice was very subtle.

After eating, we went to pack all our things and check out of the room. I handed back the ticket for our car, and the receptionist gave me the car key, a parking garage exit ticket, and a note on which was written the parking spot. She said the car was in the garage under the same block as the hotel and how to find the lift to get down there from the street outside. We wheeled our bags out, but had to climb two steps to the lift before descending down four levels to the bottom of the car park, where we found the car. We packed it carefully, then set up our route to Nice on Google Maps so we could navigate our way safely out of Monaco and to the rental car drop off spot in Nice.

The Rich Spot and the Sea
Goodbye to Monaco

We pulled out of the garage, turned onto Avenue Princesse Charlotte, and promptly ended up taking a wrong fork somewhere that saw us descending a hill on a sinuous road that diverged from the Google route, which headed up the hill. There was nowhere to turn around or even stop to check the map, but by taking brief glances at red lights to help M. we managed to determine that we could get onto a parallel road that eventually merged with the route we wanted to take. I followed some signs to Cap d’Ail, which I recognised as a small cape on the coast between Monaco and Nice, and that turned out to be the correct road to get us back on track. We rejoined the blue line route and managed to stay on it the rest of the way.

Read more: Arriving in Nice, walking through the Marché aux Fleurs, and Vieux Nice, and the central shopping areas, and along the beach, followed by a huge dinner

Europe 2016 diary: day 11

Sunday, 30 April, 2017

Tuesday, 8 November, 2016. 18:43

We got up a little lazily, and didn’t head down to breakfast until about 08:00 after having showers and dressing for a day in Monaco. The breakfast buffet served in the hotel restaurant was similar to others, but with a bigger selection of chopped and fresh fruits, and also pancakes. I had some muesli with fruit salad and yoghurt, and then tried the pancakes with maple syrup. They were luke warm and really not very good; thin and dense, almost more like small crepes. M. had some slices of bread with Nutella after some cereal. I also had a banana, since they were amongst the available fruits. The hot food selection includes sausages, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, and potatos, but I didn’t have any of those.

Saint-Charles Market
Farmer’s market near Église Saint-Charles

After eating, we set out for a day of walking around Monaco. First we headed over to Avenue Saint-Charles and the Église Saint-Charles, where there was a farmers’ market in the morning. This turned out to be quite a small affair, with just seven or eight fruit and vegetable sellers and a couple of flower stalls. They had some interesting things though, like really long skinny zucchini with the flowers attached. We walked through the stalls and then entered the side entrance of Église Saint-Charles to have a look at its interior, before exiting from the front to see the facade before continuing our walk.

Read more: Walking around the port of Monaco, exploring the old city of Monaco-Ville, the royal palace, the cathedral of Monaco, then having a wonderful dinner

Europe 2016 diary: day 10

Saturday, 15 April, 2017

Monday, 7 November, 2016. 20:56

We woke up a little later today, getting up only after 07:00. After showering, we went down to breakfast and filled up for the day. They had some chocolate biscuits half dipped in chocolate, and I had to try one, and it was good. I noticed while having breakfast that the hotel dog was in the kitchen next to the breakfast room; I guess that’s just a thing that happens in Italy. I wondered aloud if they had bananas, and M. said yes, there were some in the fruit basket. I got one and returned to the table. M. said I could save it for later… just as I cracked the stem to start peeling it. I realised saving it was probably a good idea, but it was too late now! So I had to eat it right away.

We packed our bags and checked out. We decided to walk over to the Arione shop to get some photos of this historical place, and by the time we got back to the car it would be after 09:00, when ticketed parking started. So M. fed the meter to get a ticket, with the help of the hotel guy. He’d also helped us take our luggage out to the car, and had generally been very friendly and helpful.

Unfortunately when we arrived at the Arione shop, it was shuttered, and a check of the hours revealed that it didn’t open on Mondays until 12:30! So I took some photos of the posters outside, and we walked back to the car. This led us past two chocolate and pastry shops there were open, right next door to each other. Both also sold cuneesi al rhum, but what caught my eye was bottles of amaro bitters of various brands in one of them. It sold small bottles, and I decided to get one to take home. After purchasing this, we went to the car and drove off, heading towards France.

Tunnel queue
Cars and trucks queuing to pass through the Col de Tende tunnel

We drove up into the Ligurian Alps, passing the last Italian town of Limone on the way to the border. Just before the Col de Tende pass at the top of the valley, we ran into a queue of cars, stopped at a red light. Next to the light was a display showing the number 14. After a few seconds, I divined that the 14 was indicating how many minutes until the light would go green and we could proceed through the tunnel immediately ahead. Seeing others ahead of us turn their cars off and get out for a stretch, I did likewise, taking the opportunity to take some photos of the scenic valley with the forest around us. One guy ahead of us let his dog out for a walk too.

Read more: A day exploring the village of Tende, driving through Mercantour National Park, ending up in Monaco, the Monte Carlo Casino, then dinner and drinks