harrogate, york, manchester, zurich, adliswil…

today is a travel day: from harrogate by train via york to manchester airport, then with swiss to zurich and thence to adliswil — where i’ll hopefully be around 21:30. we shall see.

the plan for the first part of the day is to take the 7:49 from harrogate to york, leave my luggage at the station, have a breakfast at bettys (grin), and then spend two and a half hour in the fantastic national railway museum.

as promised doro calls me at 6:30 uk time, i shower, repack my bags so that the harrogate shopping results get neatly stowed away, check out, and — as it is raining — take a taxi to the station. getting my ticket to york is a matter of few minutes and i’ve about 20 minutes until the 7:49 leaves for york. on platform 1 i notice a long distance train from gner going to london kings cross — the only long distance train leaving from harrogate…hmm…that might have been a bit cleverer than going via manchester…oh, well, in case i repeat this “adventure” i hope i’ll remember…

the 7:49 to york arrives on time, i manage to get a seat and as the windows are covered with condensation start on the next terry pratchett: thief of time. over the course of the 40 minute train journey we stop several times and the train really fills up for good — i’m glad, i got on at harrogate 8=) in york (the train arrives spot on time), i leave my suitcase with left luggage and make my way into the town: the objective being a leisurely breakfast at bettys — but: i’m way too early! they don’t open until 9:00 — time for a bit of strolling around. at 9:00 i’m back and join the queue of about four old ladies who — it’s 9:02 — become a bit restless and impatient (“it is past 9:00 now!”) but luckily before we face a major civil unrest the maitre d’ of bettys decides to open the doors after all. pheew, that was close. without adhering to protocol (that is, waiting at the post to be seated, and so forth) the ladies in front of me take the salon by storm and make bee lines for various tables at the window front…another “british virtue” down the drain. i decide to stick to protocol and to wait to be seated — which i am (it seems the maitre d’ is a bit surprised) in due course (two seconds waiting time, really), and i also get a table at the window front (so, no need to rush it, ladies!).

a hot mocha, a pikelete (kind of compressed crumpets with salted butter) and half of the front part of the guardian later i settle my bill and leave for the next stop this morning: the national railway museum. it’s 9:56 when i arrive there and they open on the dot at 10:00 — perfect timing! 8=)

most of the two and a half hours are spent in the great hall — looking at those locomotives i didn’t have time for back in may of last year – and in the warehouse, take a couple of pictures of the old railway companies’s emblems, and conclude with a lunch at the nrm’s brief encounter.

at 12:45 it’s back to the railway station, extract my luggage from the left luggage people and wait for the 13:20 to manchester airport. quite a nice morning! i enjoyed it very much 8=))

the bloody deed is done…

today i skip the harrogate moat house breakfast equivalent of musical chairs (though i do wonder what would have been gone today?) and go for a breakfast to bettys…on the way back to my room i fall victim to the harrogate moat house exercise program: the only operating lift, once it arrives at the ground floor quickly disgorges its load — and before i’ve a chance to get in, it rams its doors shut and disappears (does it have a date with the mushrooms and the yoghurt? i wonder…). the subsequent exercise and return trip introduces a slight delay in my demo setup.

around 14:00 the show is — to all extend and purposes — over. from now on we get about one to two visitors per hour until 16:00 when the exhibition closes de jure. by then we’ve dismantled the demos, i’ve put mannequin jonathan to sleep in his travel box (he will travel with jane to bedfont and catch the ups express back to zurich where he’s expected by tuesday next week then — that mannequin sure has seen a bit of the world: california, zurich, the cote d’azure, harrogate, bedfont), say goodbye and am off! after dropping off my almost finished two litre bottle of water in my hotel room, i home in on the local bookshops. the weather outside is really pleasant: a blue sky, a bit chilly, but it feels really good to be outside the conference hall again!

at ottokars i buy the footprint england handbook and the footprint britain guides and then retreat to bettys (yep, i just love that place). today it’s not that busy, and i get a table at the windows from where i enjoy the view across the park and towards the war memorial, do a bit of reading in the newly acquired books and update my blog.

“busy tuesday” @ harrogate…

as the exhibition doesn’t really start until 10:00 i take it slowly and decide to have newspaper breakfast. the mushrooms today must have an appointment elsewhere, they certainly are gone by 9:00 — you can’t really expect a GBP 142 per night hotel to employ more than just a handful of mushrooms now, can you? the “natural” yoghurt must have accompanied the mushrooms on their outing today, it’s nowhere to be seen as well. the harrogate moat house is a truly comfortable hotel and offers really value for the money…comfortable if you like the slighty dilapidated, back-in-the-seventies-i-was-kind-of-nice-no-really-look and don’t mind the occasional buffed down piano standing in your way…value for the money if you are the proprietor: with a minimum of input they extract a maximum of profit. though, i’ve to be fair here: the exercise program included in the price of one night is not bad at all: of the three lifts only two are operating regularly, one all day, the other needs to take a break every so often, the otis repair man is frequently encountered in the lift the is working all the time and, judging by the announced duration of the lift refurbishment programme (and “only 6 person maximum in the lifts please!”), stands a good chance of becoming a harrogate institution…it’s amazing what you get for as little as GBP 142 a night…

on this second day of the exhibition business picks up considerably and we get quite a number of visitors to our stand. the demo works much better today (i’ve added a reload meta instruction to our demo display page ) and people generally are quite inspired by the demo (one visitor even comments that our demo is the only exciting bit of the whole exhibition) — nice!

in the evening it’s back with mannequin jonathan to my hotel room — where he gets to stay, sorry, old boy — and then with the current terry pratchett equal rites and my camera for a walk followed by dinner at bettys. i conclude the night with a phone call with doro and finishing off equal rites (as well as pint of murphys — no, they don’t do guinness, and they only have one single malt at the bar, which about sums it up).

network juggling, popping pills

breakfast at the harrogate moat house is a bit of a sorry affair: the scrambled eggs look like they have been living in the place for quite some time and got really depressed by its charm (or absence of it rather). staying away from the sausages (they don’t look any less suspicious) i get some bacon and mushrooms. the tea is ok and the toast is still toast (some uk hotels have the tendency to get carried away with the toasting process and the end result often resembles something that miners might have brought back home from their job rather than a bakery product).

after breakfast it’s set-up time for the demo: this morning gprs at first refuses to play along, shortly before the show opens though i finally get the demo up and running…pheew. not having real, live internet though causes the demo to run sluggish all day…the gprs network in harrogate is not exactly what you would call speedy or thick — probably tied to the royal pump rooms somehow…

the first day is very slow: not a lot of people come by — i guess most of them use monday as the travel day (sensible). after the show stops at 18:00 i grab jonathan, the mannequin, drop him off in my hotel room (i hope he’s not going to snore tonight) and am off with my camera to bettys for some recovery time (a tearoom blend tea, a carot & coriander soup, and a yorkshire rarebit). the atmosphere is — as always — quite nice: subdued light, a piano player in the background…quite relaxing; i enjoy it very much.

at 19:30 i settle my bill and am off to a short stroll taking pictures. the new sony f828 is fantastic and a lot of fun to use! is become quite chilly and so i’m back in the hotel shortly past 20:00, get a pint of murphys (they don’t do guiness here, the whisky collection is on the cheap, low-quality side as well, just one single malt…) and settle in to watch ground force on tv.

adliswil, zurich, manchester, leeds, harrogate

getting up at an un-sunday-ly hour: 7:00…a quick shower and shave, last check on the timetable to optimize the connection in zurich, then a breakfast together with dorothee (the excellent organic green tea from bettys by post and almost two of the xxl size slices of our teabread — almost because i’m nervous about the flight and only manage one and a half. then i’m unfortunately off to zurich airport — unfortunately, because it means a full day shaved off of our weekend: precious quality time when all the time we’ve got together are the weekends…hmph.

the lx 390 flight from zurich to manchester is a swiss flight, so it’s bring-your-own-drinks time again (which i’ve done with a bottle of mineral water). it departs from gate a03, so no ride on the underground skytrain today. the flight itself is fairly pleasant, only takeoff and landing are a bit shaky (takeoff) and rough (landing). in manchester we get to wait for 15 minutes inside the plane: the luggage conveyor belt has a problem and they can’t let us out of the plane before they’ve unloaded the “hand luggage” that didn’t fit on-board. after getting my luggage, it’s through customs — and i apparently must have been passenger number X where X is divisable by 17 (or something like that): the customs inspector wants to have a look at my luggage…i’m a bit nervous about the placebo pills i’ve with me for the m-health toolkit demo, but she doesn’t even dig into those and after reassembling my luggage i’m off to find the train station for the train to york…to arrive just in time to quickly catch the 11:24 (instead of the planned 12:24) which is just about to leave. right!

first class is quite empty except for the trolley operator (who offers me the complimentary coffee just after we leave manchester airport station, nice — i also buy a lamp mint sandwhich). the conductor who appears once we have left manchester piccadilly rises to the challenge and digs out two rather thick volumes from his compartment to figure out whether i might get to harrogate via leeds earlier than what i had planned: with a bit of luck i should make the connection in leeds to the 12:49 to harrogate! he draws me a map of how to get to the platform the quickest — and sells me the ticket to leeds. very nice service!

once the train has left manchester it curves through an interesting mixture of industrial areas, small villages and towns and little hills — some of them topped off with a tower of one sort or the other. before huddersfield we pass a rather pitoresque channel twisting its way through the same valley as our train for a short time, only interrupted by a lock where it has to take a little jump. the weather is cloudy with lots of sunny spells and so we make our journey through a landscape very much shaped and influenced by the industrial revolution.

a new toy…

i got myself a new digital camera, the sony f828. quite a nice machine…i guess now is the time that i can finally say goodbye to my old analog SLR.

the weather is kind of ok and after i’ve completed the weekend shopping, we go for a long walk — inspite of the hazelnut being in full bloom again (my body really doesn’t like that stuff at all). needless to say, really, that the new toy goes along. a number of pictures and a coffee at the dutti-park later we are back at home and take a look at the pictures: quite impressive! the pictures i like best are the willow catkin and the sheep .