Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The journey up

Chapel IR

It's cold here. That's not the worse though - its windy. The cold I can handle: I borrowed a jumper from a friend, and packed on the layers. Unfortunately, all the layers in the world couldn't keep out the wind, which sliced through everything. I finally gave up fighting the weather and went out and bought a windbreaker. And then it started raining, so there you go: Thank You, English weather.

(The wind. The chimney in my room is bricked up, but it whistles with the wind. All the time. How I will sleep tonight I do not know.)

The journey up

From London to Cambridge was a bit of an Amazing Race: I felt my colleague and I deserved to have a red square to stand on and whatshisname to announce "You are the first team to arrive!". We made every connection with incredible serendipity and speed: landing at 0520hrs, we made the 0615 Heathrow Express to Paddington, thence immediately on the Circle line to Kings Cross, hitting the 0715 to Cambridge, arriving at 0815 (a delay due to faulty signalling equipment: otherwise we would have arrived at 0800 sharp), thence by taxi to St Johns by 0830.

Of course, arriving early only meant I discovered early that the conference organisers didn't seem to have me registered. That little bit of a snafu took about one hour to sort out, after which my existence was recognised, I got a pile of reading materials, a name tag, and a room.

We're being put up in rooms recently vacated by students for the Easter holidays. It was strangely comforting to open the cupboard and discover an Apple sticker on the mirror - another sympathetic soul out there. It's also strange to feel the presence of someone else having vacated the room recently, almost as if they had just stepped out, and left a whole bunch of size 12 hangers dangling in the wardrobe. We were told that our room assignments would be random, and that we might have to share. This caused me no end of worry when I realised I was given a double room: at any moment I expected to come back from one of the lectures and find a swarthy greek man sitting on my bed. This has not happened yet, which comforts me to no end.

bridge of sighs panorama

The room itself is otherwise very nice, and is just next to the Bridge of Sighs. In fact, the Bridge overlooks it - as I realised when I was halfway through getting out of my pants, and suddenly had a strange feeling I really should've drawn the curtains.

Handphone charger not working - thank god the USB cable also charges the camera. Score some points for Sony Ericsson - someday, all cameras will be like this.

Speaking of which, I only just discovered that SE K750i has a really nifty panorama function. It shows you the rightmost bit of the last photo you took, so you can overlap it and match the panorama. It does this for 3 photos, and then stitches them together in-camera to produce a somewhat crude but very effective panorama.

I'm sitting here with a cup of hot chocolate because I'm desperately trying to fight off jet lag. It's 1.37 am in the morning back home, where my body and circadian rhythm still thinks I am, and not even 7pm here. I have to last through dinner before I can allow myself to sink into bed. The bright side: I'll be so tired the whistling from the chimney won't keep me awake tonight.

***

Dinner's done. If they feed us like that every night, I'm going to go to sleep well fed and very happy. Dinner was old-school, dark dining hall, flickering candles and bright shiny cutler. Someone described it as "Harry Potterish". No owls though, which must always be considered a good thing. Almost got hit in the head by the waitress, due to air traffic control problems - she was serving me from the left, I thought she was coming from the right and dodged left. The rest of the table teased me and her relentlessly the rest of the dinner.

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