Home Home -> Blog

Blogs by Imperial College Alumni, 2001 Entry

A Picture of My Life

Sunday, April 02, 2006

BA Sauna

So, yet another flight... this time from Heathrow to San Francisco and onward by road to San Jose

I wasn't sure we'd actually get the flight, as we were nearly an hour late boarding due to a fault with the air conditioning. I was waiting for the flight to be cancelled, however we're in the air, with broken air-con. What this means is that its -52 C outside at the moment but somewhere around 26 C inside. It's only just bearable - the cabin crew were bringing round drinks with ice earlier, but seem to have disappeared. With another 4 hours we might not need the sauna in the hotel!

Looks like it'll be fairly late by the time we get back to the hotel!

Friday, January 06, 2006

(Belated) Happy New Year!

As always, lots going on I could write about, no time to write about it. This could almost be a train blog as that's the only place I write!

This time though, rather than a dirty FGW Link Turbo, I'm in 1st class on a Virgin Pendolino. It works out at £37 return if booked in advance and looks to be worth it (a saver return on the day is £38 or so, for standard class)! I've had many cups of coffee, some food and somewhere to sit in Euston (there are no seats except in restaurants of the first class lounge).

Anyway, continuing the theme of doing things some people call crazy (such as getting up at 5am for the London to Brighton run or working through the night on the Lord Mayor's Show float), I went to the embankment on New Year's Eve to see the fireworks by the London Eye, then arrived at Jez garage at 9am for the New Year's Day Parade. Well done to the people who turned up!

Throw in the Parade reception, PhD work, birthdays and now Ukrainian Christmas in Manchester and it's been a very busy few weeks!

I hope you all have a good 2006!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Moving!

Well, moving house has occupied a lot of my time over the last few weeks. I've experienced good estate agents (Williams Lewis in Chalk Farm), good phone companies (BT), bad phone companies (Bulldog) and a surprisingly rapid response from a management company I thought would be useless, given the state of the place when we moved in.

This has all happened in the last 10 days or so, but being busy moving has stopped me writing about it. I'm on my way to a Christmas party in Oxfordshire, so have the chance to write on the long train journey.

Estate Agents
After the move to Didcot in 2004 I joined many other people in the belief that estate agents are a form of pond life...except the independent ones. Maxwell Daly in Didcot were very good (in contrast to Chancellors who seemed disinterested) and Ken Daly probably deserves the flash car he drives.

With a regular income and desire to be closer to College, as well as Iv looking for a place, we decided to move in together. We had some furniture we could move, so were happy with unfurnished or part-furnished properties. I went looking for places, trying to find a flat in West Kensington within our price range, preferably via an independent estate agent. The first place we looked at (and eventually moved in to!) was with Williams Lewis and we had good, friendly service from them.

Chiltons showed us a furnished place which was smaller and more expensive, but well done to them for finding somewhere at short notice.

John Hollingsworth on North End Road took my details but didn't bother phoning me back.

We took the Williams Lewis place in the end. We were a bit slow with the paperwork so didn't get a confirmation until the Monday morning before we were due to move in. There begins the rest of the story...

Phones
The flat had a BT socket, with no others and the previous tenant worked from home. Great - just need to phone BT and get the line enabled. I'll make the point here that I've been happy with the service from BT, despite what follows. When I first called BT to check there was a BT line there, I was told that there was. The next time I called, when we had the place, they couldn't find the line based on the postcode. I arranged for an engineer to visit to trace the line and connect it, but the earliest available appointment was 22nd December. Not ideal, but no other real choice.

Once I'd arranged this, I realised that Bulldog might be providing service on the line and might be able to reactivate it sooner. At this point, my day started to get worse and I lost all faith in Bulldog. Initially I was on hold for 7 minutes before getting through to customer services, who said they were tech support only and I should hang up and call back, selecting different options. I got through to a very helpful woman who tried to trace the line, but could only search by Bulldog reference number or surname, not postcode. I had the surname, so she spent a while scrolling through trying to find the line, which she did. I now had a phone number!

Armed with the number of the line, I phoned BT back to see if they could activate it faster - they couldn't. I wanted service quickly, so decided to see if Bulldog could reactivate the line. I got through - eventually - to someone in India over a very dodgy line which kept dropping out. I was told I needed a new 'line'. After a discussion about why I needed a new line when there was one there already, it transpired that my definition of line (the copper wire to the flat) and Bulldog's (a virtual service with a phone number) was different. It turned out, after a talk about local-loop unbundling, that they had removed their exchange equipment and it would take 14-28 days to restore service! Back to BT it was then...

So, moving in day came. The place was dirty, but the management company had fixed the things I'd asked them to and fitted a net curtain. A small leak on the cistern overflow pipe reared its head once it started being used, but nothing major. Then I tried to close the curtains...

The curtains were mounted on a slide rail with a drawstring, at a height of 3m or so from the ground with as span of 2.5m. These are heavy curtains. When I tried to close them, they jammed halfway - pulling them open and slowly closing them again resulted in the entire curtain rail crashing to the floor. I had a phone call 24 hours after emailing the management company to arrange someone to look at it, which is fairly good.

Dreams Deliver
Despite knowing of problems with Dreams, they had a very good mattress so we ordered from them online. We weren't sure we believed their promise to deliver by Christmas, but sure enough they were able to offer delivery within a few days of ordering - even before we moved in! They delivered today, as arranged, within the timeslot they said.

All we need to do now is move the sofa and armchair to the new place - but I have a worry that they won't fit through the door!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The morning after...

...and it crashed during the night!

Stupid o'clock

The last few working days have been quite productive. Admittedly, I have been working until stupid o'clock in the morning, as today. I've been giving my individual project a bit of a tidy up, as I need it to generate lots of different options, preferably without crashing before it gets there. It started running 90 minutes ago and appears to still be alive! Last week it would have consumed all the system memory and crashed by now. I still need to make it even faster and less memory
hungry, but I have a theory.

It's probably time to leave this overnight...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

VCC London to Brighton Run 2005

6th November 2005 was the VCC London to Brighton run. The event was the most well-attended for several years, with 24 current and former members of RCS Motor Club turning up to travel to Brighton with Jez.

Click the title link to go to the Jez website for some photos.

All four vintage vehicles - Bo', Clem, Derrick and Jez - went to Brighton this year and all arrived under their own power. Just about anyway - Bo' was firing on one cylinder by the end and someone bent the steps on the back of Clem while she was stationary (and also, says Matt, "we nearly got written off by some ****** coming the other way who decided it would be fun to swerve into our lane").

Including Guildsmen, scientists, family members and union officers, over 40 people supported the motor clubs for part or all of the day. For those riding on Jez or in Clem, the return journey was extremely wet, with a waterfall coming off of the canopy at the petrol station we stopped at.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Graduation Day Arrives!

Finally, we got to celebrate our graduation with a ceremony in the Royal Albert Hall. The ceremony commemorates the visit of the King to Imperial College in 1945, and is held on the last Wednesday in October every year.

You can see a rather dopey looking me in the picture on the left ... and indeed in most of the photos!

The ceremony itself is mostly not exciting, but it's good to see friends from various departments walk across the stage. An oddity of Imperial's ceremony is that you don't actually receive anything - no degree certificate, no ACGI certificate. You just walk across the stage, shake hands with the faculty principal and walk back off again.

It was good to see people I hadn't seen since we finished, even if I didn't get to talk to all of them! We managed to get a group photo, in a paparazzi-style, flashes from all directions shoot:

Some more photos: me in front of the Royal Albert Hall and me with Jez, Bo' and Clem.

And of course, Ivanka graduated too! As you can see, it was a tiring day.


Finally, there were three people from RCS Motor Club graduating in the morning ceremony, so I had a picture done with Teddy and Iv, on Jez:

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Trains

First rule of email-to-blog - remember to send it. My funding letter arrived on Thursday, not yesterday!

Why oh why are so many children on my train between Slough and Reading? There must be a very good school there somewhere.

Not long left on the train now. While I'm looking forward to reducing my commuting time, travelling out of London on the train is a lot better than travelling in on the tube! Only 350 miles to go!