During our last trip we managed to see the Severn Bore once in the dark and once during daylight. Even though the one I filmed was a smaller one (3* out of 5*) it was still really impressive, considering that it was near Newnham, where it starts picking up. The Severn Bore is one of the biggest in the world. You can read more info here.

Here is a 5* Bore I found on YouTube:

One of the main goals of visiting Italy this time was to get to Cinque Terre. The web is full of pictures from there and they look so fascinating that I was anticipating an amazing place with great opportunities to take pictures. Sadly, I have to say that I did not like it much. We went to Riomaggiore and Vernazza and it was quite enough to ‘experience’ the place: it is very over hyped and overcrowded.  Considering that it’s a very touristic area, I found the infrastructure support quite poor, with no dedicated train connecting the villages, as I thought it would be based on the things I’ve read online. Instead, the trains run very sparse, around one an hour, which makes it very difficult to enjoy moving from one place another.
We parked in Riomaggiore as we wanted to drive from La Spezia there as it seemed to be a very scenic drive. The drive was indeed very nice but the weather was not good enough to allow us to see the view in all its splendor. From there we took an overcrowded train and went to Vernazza to shay check that one out. Based on the descriptions from the tourist guide, I was expecting Vernazza to be sensational but it was far from that. Badly maintained houses with washed out colours. Around lunchtime waves of tourists started coming so we just rushed to get out of there. Sadly, we left Cinque Terre after spending there less than 3 hours! We went to see how Portovenere looks and the good thing is that we liked it a lot! It’s pretty and it had beautiful views over the sea. Highly recommended.

Here are the photos we took in Cinque Terre and Portovenere.

After a considerable length of time in Colchester (the longest I’ve ever been in a single place after Romania), we moved to Greenwich. Well, we are still moving, actually, but the essentials are moved.

Over the past week we started to explore the areas around and tried to find replacements for the places we got used to in Colchester. In Colchester was probably easier as most of the stores were all grouped together. Here we seem to need to look within the neighbouring areas too. On the other hand, we had 6 years in Colchester to find all the places so…

I am looking forward to finding new places in and around Greenwich and I created a map that will be used to ‘collect’ our impression about all the new places around.

Here are a few photos from our new location:

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Yesterday we stopped by Bletchley Park, the place where a large community of people from various domains and walks of life gathered during World War II in order to break the German codes.
It was a totally different type of visit than before, as the buildings themselves are quite uninspiring and gloomy but the history behind them is extraordinary.
There is a lot of information to take in and you definitely need a second visit to find out more.
I did not find that the multimedia iPod device provided by them was very helpful as the screen is quite small and the controls pretty bad. I find that having a device to fiddle with while you are trying to visit a place or exhibition is not a very good idea as it decreases the experience on both sides. Anyway, once you get the hang of the place and start going around the Mansion, huts, blocks and cottages, all becomes more enjoyable. The very extensive exhibition in Bloc B, where the Entrance is, would probably be the best place to start with even though you might end up spending so much time there that you’d be too tired to get on to the other places 🙂
If you are interested in this part of the human history or, as myself, you are amazed by Alan Turing and his contributions to computer science, it is a very enlightening experience. Also because you understand that Turing, no matter how genius he was, was part of a large community and they all contributed in various ways to breaking the German codes and shortening the WW2.

Some interesting links I found:

And here are the photos I took there:

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Last week we went to Lancaster and, in our way up north, we decided to stop and rest at a National Trust property. Being very well located off A1,we choose Woolsthorpe Manor, the place where Isaac Newton was born and lived for some time. While initially was meant just as a relaxing stop on our way, it became a very powerful experience when we saw THE apple tree that he said inspired him and we saw his room, where he devised various experiments and started some of his main theories. It’s unbelievable that after so many centuries, we can still see this place and experience some of the atmosphere that he lived and worked in.

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Audio+Movement+HeartRate

Yesterday I finally had my viva and I am quite happy that it’s all behind now! It lasted quite long (over 3 hours) but it all ended well and, even more importantly, I’ve got some very nice feedback about my work from my examiners 🙂

I wanted to have a more ‘objective’ view into my experience so I used the Zephyr HxM monitor to record movement and heart rate and the AIRS platform to record other data and annotate at certain points, so here are some of the graphs that include the ambient noise levels (i.e., talking), my movement levels (i.e., based on the accelerometer), my heart rate levels and my annotations. The viva started at 2:30pm  and ended around 6pm. It seems that my heart rate went up before the viva (actually it started going up a few hours before) but it started coming down during the viva, which shows I was getting less stressed 🙂 Then it got up again while I was waiting for the result outside the room and pacing and also kept being up because of the excitement 🙂
The other graphs also show my waiting outside the room (the 15 min before 6pm): increased movement and low noise on the corridor.

Audio+Movement+HeartRate

This week I attended the “Thinking Architecturally” workshop organised at the Computer Lab in Cambridge by the EINS EU NOE project. The workshop aimed at bringing together people from various disciplines that talked about designing and creating architectures within their domain.
The attendance list was very impressive and the viewpoint presentations brought in lots of discussions (some in agreement, some in disagreement). The discussions generated showed the differences between various communities with regard to what aspects should be part of an Internet architecture. My favourite presentations were by Aaron Sloman and John Doyle, because they were very thought-provoking (at least for me!). It was quite an amazing experience for me to meet Aaron Sloman during this week, as I’ve known some of his work for such a long time. I first saw his CogAff schema in 2000 and it is one of my favourite representation of various levels of reasoning. On top of that, he is such a nice person to talk to and listen to. Every time he said something I was in awe 🙂 This material includes what he presented during the workshop. John Doyle talked about biological structures as an inspiration for architectural thinking.

We have been trying to sell our house for the past 4 months and something. I am not surprised that the house is still not sold because the market is not very good now but I have to say that I am really disappointed by the real estate agents and agencies. While they are all very nice and respectful during that initial meetings, once the contract is signed they are mainly trying to make you reduce the house price. That is because in this country, even though you negotiate based on a certain percentage from the selling price, in the contract they put a fixed amount, which means they do not take any hit, no matter how low you go with the price. Which also means that after just one month of being on the market with them, at a price they suggested as realistic, they call you and ask you to reduce the price. Sometimes, quite dramatically, as in between 20-30K! They also try to send the viewers alone and they almost never give you a follow up on what viewers said. We were first with Haart, now we are with W H Brown and they are the same 🙁 I am currently trying to get the agent to call me back to discuss if we should take the house off the market for now and he just ignores me…As I said, agents are an utter disappointment to me. I am not sure how to find somebody I could trust.

This summer London has been taken over by Olympic and Paralympic fever! Even though I was not very excited initially (mainly due to various sponsor-related issues as well as an appalling ticket selling website/process), I quickly got into the fever once the Olympics started! It was nice to see London decorated, the various events on TV, as well as some canoe stuff and the closing ceremony live. When I thought it was all over, the Paralympics started and I am enjoying them immensely! While it was initially quite difficult to understand the various categories, now it all makes a bit more sense. We even managed to get tickets for 2 events, before they were all sold out! It is so amazing to see how people managed to cope with all sorts of disabilities. It was also eyes opening to understand how much variety is involved in the ‘disabled’ attribute. However, the most exciting thing was to see how the people in UK got so excited about the Paralympics! There is such a sense of celebration and pride in the venues. It’s a pity that most countries do not even show the Paralympics. I believe they provide such valuable lessons to adults and kids (with or without any disabilities), probably even more than the Olympics.

Photo albums:


Olympic  canoe sprint competition at Eton Dorney

The Olympic closing ceremony

Paralympic equestrian event at Greenwich Park

Paralympic athletic event on the Olympic Stadium