Tag Archives: Canterbury

Hello!

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This is the view I’m currently having outside my lab. Not the kind of thing you’ll want when you have delicate and very motion-susceptible interferometers right on the other side of the wall!

Thankfully this will not last long – they are just sorting out the access road which will be widened slightly and brought closer to our building. Although having cars passing by closer than before will also not be very good for us… oh well!

And another parkrun!

CPR 16 May 2015

Already integrated in my Saturday morning routine, that’s for sure! Having a bit of fun and trying hard to get to that sub-20′ time (this week I’ve beat my previous best time, with 20:17. Still 17 seconds to shave out, but I’m hoping by the end of the Summer I’ve managed to do it!). Those last two hills are terrible… looking at my laps one can definitely see a big decrease in the split times for km 3 and 4!

Many thanks to all the volunteers who painstakingly show up every Saturday morning to help out in this event, marshalling the course and taking lots of lovely pictures with which I can fill up my Facebook albums! (I think people by now are quite tired of seeing photos of me running with varying degrees of brightly coloured running gear). I really need to give back, but at the same time I don’t want to give up a potentially great training session, it is a bit of a dilemma! πŸ™‚

And in this event I’ve met a few more familiar faces – one of my co-workers came to run the full course with his two under-10-year-old children. Slowly but steadily the “running-mania” is arriving in Canterbury and, more particularly, at our own Applied Optics Group. Beware… πŸ˜€

Whew!

Again, it has been a while! πŸ™‚ Where to begin?

Well, Porto came and went (too quickly, indeed…) and I returned to the island and to my busy schedule (at times). Funnily enough, as soon as I got back one of my university mates came to visit and we spent a nice weekend roaming around Kent, with the mandatory stop at Whitstable to get some oysters.

May was a bit slow… between work at the lab, a pile of lab reports to mark (yeah, I gave myself a proper holiday in Porto and didn’t evenΒ look at them during the whole time I was there – but then the problem came in May when I had to finish them all in a very short span of time! πŸ˜› ), and a very busy time at PARSUK (we had to assess the student applications to the summer placement programme we are sponsoring – and there were a lot of applications!!) I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything else.

My mom and my little sister did came to visit me by the end of the month, which was nice, if it wasn’t for the horrible weather we had and all the miles I had to drive under that rain (unbelievable the spray that forms on the motorway, it came to a point when the water was beingΒ projected over the central reservation into the opposite carriageway!!). After showing them the views and going to London for some sightseeing, using a bank holiday weekend for that purpose, I felt happy but also a bit tired (after returning from dropping them at the airport on Tuesday morning I have to confess I didn’t do much in the lab for the remainder of the day!).

June started with a few meetings and workshops. I attended a National Instruments (NI)/Institute of Physics half-day meeting at Kingston University (SW London) with some of the usual suspects from the lab where I gave a little presentation in conjunction with Adrian B about the NI hardware/software we use and how that helps us achieve what we need, research-wise. It was interesting and I chatted with a few interesting people, namely one of the top level execs of NI here in the UK.

At the Summer School, where I got an award for one of the best poster presentations – feeling proud!

A few days later I went to Teddington to attend a Summer School at the National Physical Laboratory, sponsored by SEPNet (the group of the South-East universities with Physics degrees, Kent being one of them). It was interesting and refreshing, even if myself and Yong H were the only ones in there doing Applied Optics, as far as I saw… but they had some very interesting workshops, an innovation challenge that brought up the “soft skills” we are never taught but are definitely important, and Jim Al-KhaliliΒ as the keynote speaker! (oh, and there were a few social events as well… the weather was remarkably good for those, and in the end I even managed to cram a few nice runs in the morning, in particular a ~10k one partly following the Thames in the Kingston/Hampton Wick area – absolutely beautiful!).

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All the participants of LUSO 2014 congregated for a group photo after the event. The venue was quite unique as well!

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And here it is, the PARSUK committee for 2013-14, possibly our last group photo of the mandate. It has been quite a ride!…

And in the following week I headed for Bath, to attend the 8th LUSO (2014) – the annual meeting of the Portuguese students and researchers in the UK. Ultimately this would be also the time to pass on my duties as a treasurer for PARSUK, given that our mandate finishes at the AGM, which took place the day after the conference. It was very intense but also good fun, and I feel privileged to have been able to work with such a great bunch of people. Definitely worth the horrible ~4-hour drive there on Friday afternoon through the congested M25, followed by the congested M3, congested Windson and congested A46, all under a scorching sun (“why would I need a car with air conditioning in this country?”, I naively asked myself when I purchased my car. Well, on a day like June 20th it would have come handy… πŸ˜› ).

Cake skill - acquired! (actually it is only a yoghurt cake, possibly the easiest cake to bake on Earth, but it was still quite yummy! )

Cake skill – acquired!
(actually it is only a yoghurt cake, possibly the easiest cake to bake on Earth, but it was still quite yummy! ) And please do not ask why I am topless, it was really warm that day and the oven being on didn’t help! πŸ˜›

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Almost ran this little fellow over with the lawnmower today! Fortunately I managed to stop in time, and it stayed enough time for me to take a few shots…

At last I managed to have a weekend for myself – this weekend included some rowing, some running, and general tidying up of my house, my car, the garden (managed to mow all the lawn, trim the hedges and tidy upΒ before the rain started!! Big WIN!! πŸ˜€ ).

A selfie at the boathouse! Nice boat, this one…

With regards to running: Richard,Β one of my rowing mates told me about this fantastic nature reserve in Blean – Blean (duh) Nature Reserve – just a stone’s throw from campus and featuring a fantastic 7-8 mile loop through forest paths and rolling countryside, hard to believe that we are less than 5 miles away from Canterbury city centre! Given that I have just presented myself with a shiny new Garmin Forerunner 310XT (which should arrive this week – eagerly awaiting, and a review will follow!) I will probably use it to log a few of these trails, which are not very well documented, which is a shame!

OK, I think I’ll end here. It is late and I need to catch some sleep, I am dead tired today πŸ™‚ Hopefully will update soon!

Easter extended weekend!

It is always nice to have a bit of a break from work, and have a nice time with good friends and great food! Around here we have Bank Holidays on both Good Friday and Easter Monday – even though I actually spent part of the break coding and fixing my ragged piece of software, I had plenty of stuff to keep me amused!

Starting with Saturday – we had the Spring ICC! I remember fondly the last year’s ICC – it was great fun, the weather was lovely and sunny and we had a really good time (also, it was my very first race! Well… not a “real” race, but still counts as one for me!). Err.. not this year!

Boathouse, 7:30 AM

Boathouse, 7:30 AM on Spring ICC day. Can you spot the snow flakes falling? (I should have used the flash!)

 

This year’s weather has been very, very disappointing (in fact, it actually snowed today, April 3rd! πŸ˜› ), and the Spring ICC was no exception. We got out of the minibus in Plucks just to get greeted by a blizzard of snow gushing through the bus’ side door!

Gladly, it wasn’t like that all morning – there were periods of sunshine! – but I still raced under a bit of a blizzard on my first race (I raced twice, first on a single – ooh! – and then filling in a W4+ with another guy – there weren’t enough girls in the boathouse to have all-female crews, so we had to fill in for them! πŸ˜‰ ). My time on the 1x was quite miserable – 4:06 for a <1k race!! – and, predictably, I came up last πŸ™‚ . But then again, I don’t know how to go fast on a single, as I normally use them for leisurely “strolls” of 10k+! πŸ˜›

Having fun!! And at least I managed to keep the boat relatively balanced for the photo… (photo credit Ben Zeng)

 

Sadly, there was no barbecue this year, and we managed to finish the whole event quite early (probably the nasty weather contributed a bit to that!) – I was back at my place around 1 PM!

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Easter lunch: Great company, good food and wine – what else can I ask? πŸ˜‰

On Easter Sunday I also had a great time – a lovely lunch-which-was-then-extended-to-dinner with my Portuguese friends living here in Canterbury, with a gap in between to get to the pub to watch the Boat Race on telly with the guys from the club (Oxford won quite cleanly – quite a change from last year, rowing-wise, and I also enjoyed being in the pub with a pint in hand watching the whole race, instead of freezing to death on the banks of the Thames! :P).

A great time, indeed – I now fully recharged my “batteries” for some weeks’ worth of hard work!

UKC Rowing Ergathon!!

UKC Rowing Ergathon

UKC Rowing Ergathon!

The cheerful chaps at my University’s rowing club are hosting a 3-day competition with charity purposes, the Ergathon (basically a rowing marathon in an ergometer, aka the machine of death πŸ˜› ).

This year we will attempt to row the distance between Canterbury and Paris, which apparently is around 285 km as the crow flies. We have two teams of rowers competing to see whoever gets there first, and they will be rotating in 30 minute slots trying to put as many miles as possible during that time.

The event will take place in either the University campus (this Thursday) or down in the city centre (apparently it will be next to CafΓ© Rouge, just off the High Street) in Friday and Saturday.

If you’re in Canterbury be sure to stop by to cheer (and perhaps donate a few quid! πŸ˜‰ ), and you might get lucky and see yours truly here, the leisure rower, actually doing something on the erg (quite a rare sight, I should tell you).

Part of the donations will revert to our club to get some much-needed equipment, and the rest to the Strode Park Foundation, a local charity working to provide high quality services to meet the changing and individual needs of people with disabilities.

May the best team win! πŸ™‚

Snow in Canterbury

It is been snowing non-stop since this morning around here – everything is completely covered in white, and the thickness of the coating is now quite sizable (more than 5 cm, definitely!).

This morning I walked (yes, I did not want to risk my chances by cycling, since only the really major roads are gritted) to the University and took some photos of the campus and its amazing Canterbury views completely covered in white. It was quite a sight… and everyone was enjoying themselves, I saw a lot of families with kids playing in the snow and going down the hill on sledges – good thing that is reasonably hilly around here! πŸ™‚

Some photos (you can, of course, check the complete range on Flickr):
Canterbury cathedral
And this is a footpath...
Top of Eliot footpath, looking below

Francesinha night… in Canterbury!

Yes, indeed! Our latest meeting of the Portuguese group involved a fairly elaborate Porto delicacy, the famous francesinha. πŸ˜€

Looking absolutely gorgeous...

Yum! It looks absolutely gorgeous, doesn’t it?

Even though I’ll head back to Porto in a few days, one can never say no to a francesinha, especially one that was completely home-made, following a fairly complex recipe for its sauce (I lost track of the ingredients after a while, they were so many! πŸ™‚ ).

And to our vegetarian friends, the chef Bela Soares created a masterpiece – a “veggie” francesinha featuring eggplant and mozarella, which looked also fairly well-composed, and the “unusual” ingredients in it made it look fairly smart and sophisticated. (and it also tasted brilliantly, according to our vegetarian friends!)

"Veggie" francesinha!

I think it is fair to say that it would be viable to open a Porto restaurant here in Canterbury!
(well, perhaps they wouldn’t like the tripes as much as the francesinha… πŸ™‚ )

All in all, it was an excellent evening. I do miss speaking Portuguese when I’m out and about (skypeing does not count!), and this kind of events really help making that happen. And I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some very nice people, while at it!…

The whole group

And here it is, the whole group.
Yours truly is over there on the left, grinning stupidly for no apparent reason and making a sad figure of himself…

 

Status update (or, new digs and even more rainy weather…)

After spending a week living precariously, sleeping in couches and basically wearing the same clothes because I couldn’t reach my suitcase, I have finally moved in to my new place on Thursday – and what a difference!

6 places visited and I eventually settled for the very first one I saw – it wasn’t the cheapest, the room wasn’t the largest I saw, but I really fell in love with the place: big garden (and a beautiful one, too: what a difference from the rectangle of grass I had in my previous house here in Canterbury!), very, very bright (important when the sky is cloudy 90% of the time). It is a calm place, too: I can relax properly when coming home from the lab, and we have an interesting household, too – I really can’t ask for more!

And tomorrow I will start my teaching duties at the university – I will be doing someΒ  demonstrations for 1st-year students’ labs, along with some marking (thankfully, that will not start right now). Looking forward to it…

There are still a couple of things on my check list that must be taken care of, though: I need to get a bicycle, urgently! (walking is OK, but so slow… the time required to go to Sainsbury’s to do some shopping actually tripled!) And I also need to re-join both the rowing club and the gym – meanwhile, I’ll run whenever the weather allows it (now that I’ve moved in, I managed to reach my running kit and did a 6k run yesterday). Running in here is quite different from running in Gaia, though – I miss those 30k of uninterrupted path by the river- and sea-side, in here I have to be forever vigilant with the numerous road-crossings (and the lack of zebra crossings mean that cars have the right of way all the time…).