Some photos

Selected photos of my trip to Madrid are now online, along with some old (and more complete) photos of West Kirby Marine Lake. There’s not an awful lot to say about Madrid; our days centred around two things, food and drink, both of which were plentiful, good and cheap (just like pretty much everywhere else in the world outside the UK). But more stories about that later.

A New Year

It doesn’t feel like 2004. It doesn’t even feel like 2003, but I suppose we’ll all just have to cope. It’s going well so far; what could be better than watching seven episodes of Friends (season one, no less) in bed and having someone else cook breakfast for you? I’m writing this sitting on an unusually pleasant train ride back to Liverpool.

I spent my New Year’s Eve in Leeds at a friend’s house party which was good fun, especially due to the entirely unexpected five inches of snow that fell overnight. I haven’t had such a great snowball fight for years; there must have been dozens of people out in the street forming lines of artillery and raiding parties.

A few days ago I was out walking around the marine lake near my home in West Kirby. It’s a little under two miles to walk around the entire lake and for the most part, the path is only a few metres wide and half a metre above the water. This means that on days like this one, where the sky was achingly blue and crisp, and there was not a trace of wind in the air, you can stand on the path and feel like you’re floating in space, with blue skies and water all around you. See photos of a reflection, an arcing path and the sunset.

I miss the water and shore when I’m at Oxford. When the weather was more amenable, I used to run along the river Isis for a few miles every week and I could get my fix water then, but there is little that compares to the looking out over an expanse of water that reaches as far as the eye can see. There’s probably a thousand different evolutionary psychological reasons why we humans love living along the shore and looking at the water, but in this case I don’t want to unweave the rainbow.

I’ve never really gone for New Year’s resolutions; if there’s something I want to do (or stop doing) that I feel is achievable, then making a resolution isn’t going to make any difference. This year though, if I were to make my first resolution, it would be to untangle the complicated and occasionally depressing web that my personal life is gradually becoming.

Mefi photos

Metafilter UK Oxford meetup photos – a highly geeky and highly successful meetup of Metafilter UK members, featuring drinks, noodles, more drinks, a run-in with the police, a gig in a dive bar, yet more drinks and ice cream. I had a lot of fun and met a bunch of very interesting people; hopefully another one will be organised soon.


In lieu of any weblog updates, and since I had a craving for some serious procrastination, I’ve uploaded two new collections of photos to my photo gallery. The first and larger collection is from May Week last year, and the second collection is from the Chinese New Year Ball in Cambridge at the start of this year. It’s not just photos – there’s also lots of extremely irrelevant commentary as well!

I have this theory about photo galleries on the web, and in fact photo albums in general. Basically: who wants to look at a bunch of someone else’s photos? It’s not as if you know anyone in them. Given that most people aren’t experts at taking good photos – and also that most people don’t care about such things – the most interesting thing about photos is the context they’re in and the stories you can tell with them. Hence my habit of writing long and convoluted captions to each photo that I hope people will find interesting, and maybe even funny.


While I was working at UC San Diego earlier this summer, I’d often hear some music (country style, usually) wafting over the trees as I was walking home. For about a month, I never really had any idea where it was coming from – I assumed that it was maybe from the bar or the faculty club, but neither explanation made any sense because they were too far away.

Anyway, someone eventually explained to me that the music was coming from a tree. The Singing Tree, which was in the middle of the mini-forest that I walked past every day, was made out of metal. I expressed the opinion that this was a bit peculiar, and was then told that the Tree had two siblings – the Talking Tree, and the Silent Tree, which were both also metal. Apparently the Talking Tree has startled more than a few freshers in the middle of the night by randomly quoting poetry.

The three Trees look pretty realistic, other than being metal, which is why I managed to walk past them for a month without them registering on my mind. Here’s a photo of the Singing Tree, and the Silent Tree. The Trees’ strangeness hasn’t escaped otherse – here’s a cartoon someone drew about them.