liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
That was not the Worldcon I would have liked; I'd hoped to do as several of my friends did, and travel overland and explore some of the region. Or at least to really get immersed in the con itself. And I'd have liked a proper holiday with my partners and their children, which hasn't really happened this year though we've had a few short breaks.

In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.

more details )


Oct. 25th, 2016 06:31 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] cjwatson is working in The Hague for a bit, and since it overlaps with half term Ghoti was able to take all their children to join him. And [ profile] fivemack and I came out for just the weekend in the middle. In a trip lasting less than two days, I managed to trip over a kerb and fall flat on my face, bending my glasses out of shape and cutting my cheek. There was a probably expensive (unless it can be sorted out) muddle over paying for the hotel. I had a really bad coughing fit in the middle of the night which triggered me back to childhood when my asthma wasn't well medicated. The food court where we were eating caught on fire and we had to evacuate. Plus lots of the usual tribulations of travelling with a large group and trying to keep everybody fed and hydrated enough to be functional.

I had a totally wonderful time even so, and I'm extremely glad I went. what I did on the weekend )

Yesterday I left after a late and leisurely breakfast and had a very easy journey to get in in good time to run the Simchat Torah service at shul for a scant minyan, and nobody younger than my about to be bar mitzvah student. Even though travelling out on Shabbat and returning on the festival day is not how I want to be, it was really good for me to get a proper break after the intensity of the festival season. And a weekend away, even if it was a bit rushed, will help renewing my enthusiasm for work now we're a month into the term. But mostly it was wonderful to be able to join in with part of my loves' adventure.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[ profile] ghoti planned us a group trip to Budapest, all of us, her three children and four partners. Which to me sounds like a terrifying amount of organization, but basically she booked budget flights and rented us a huge, cheap, centrally located apartment that normally trades on stag and hen parties. And then she got everybody to the airport in plenty of time, with some notion of how to get across the city from the airport, and after that we basically just turned up and improvised.

In almost all respects that worked better than the sorts of holidays I'm used to with detailed itinerary planning, and long complicated negotiations about sharing space with people who aren't normally housemates. We didn't have the slightest ambition to see "everything", we just wanted to have a good time together in a new city, and that was incredibly successful. I mean, it's easy to say that it was low effort considering that my gf put in most of the effort and I just tagged along, but I wouldn't have contemplated organizing a trip of that size and complexity, I would have just assumed it was beyond me, but partly because planning I'd have considered essential is actually entirely disposable.

[ profile] ghoti was also much better at writing up the trip than I am, she did so promptly and concisely; my version is likely to be rambly and boring. tourist report )

So basically, [ profile] ghoti was an amazing genius at organizing a holiday that was fun and exciting and full of interesting new experiences without being exhausting. And at taking into account the wishes of such a large and mixed group and making sure that everybody had the best possible time.

Budapest is shadowed by genocide )
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Next week I'm travelling to Hungary, a country I've never visited before. We (well, mostly [ profile] ghoti) planned the essential bits, the travel and accommodation, months ago, but it's come up faster than I'd expected and I haven't had time to think about what we're actually going to do there. It doesn't really matter since we're a party of six adults and two children, so I'm sure other people will have ideas, but I thought I might ask for advice anyway.

I made you some ticky boxes )


Jul. 4th, 2016 11:46 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I had a completely glorious time in Ireland last week. travelogue )

Basically, thank you so much to all of you for good advice, we did much better by listening to you than by trying to plan the trip off websites and guidebooks. And you were all collectively right about roads and driving. Also thank you to everybody who asked for a postcard, and to [ profile] ghoti for recommending me the app. It turned out to really increase my enjoyment of the trip; [ profile] darcydodo brought a real camera, but I just had my phone. It was really good for me to have the motivation to take the occasional snap of something I really wanted to send to one of you, but to spend most of my time looking at things with my eyes rather than being distracted by photography. I missed lots of you, [personal profile] hatam_soferet when we were looking at manuscripts, and [personal profile] forestofglory when we were learning about ecology, and [personal profile] kaberett when we were being amazed by geology, and [personal profile] lethargic_man when we were trying to figure out language stuff. And my musicians and historians and Christians pretty much all the time.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[ profile] ghoti asked: could you tell us about your favourite places outside the UK?

This is going to be brief, cos it's ended up on a Friday and I never have more than half an hour spare on Fridays. I've been to plenty of beautiful and historic places, but I put a much higher priority on visiting friends than on being a tourist. So I'm most likely to get excited about the home town of someone I love, especially when it's far away enough that I probably wouldn't have the time and energy to go there except to visit them. I think the top two in that category are Melbourne in Australia, and Montréal in Canada.

Neither really has the kind of must-see tourist destinations that the most beautiful old-world cities have, nothing to compare with Paris or Florence or Jerusalem. But they are places I could imagine myself living, not just ticking the sights off my bucket list. They are big cities with plenty going on culturally, but feel much more spacious and less crowded than London or New York. Partly because they're less densely populated in a literal sense, but partly because they have sensible public transport infrastructure and a somewhat European-like café culture, you don't feel like everybody's constantly in a hurry and shoving you out of the way. I love that they're multicultural and don't seem, at least to my visitor's eyes, horribly segregated by race or economics. Both have an amazing range of really good food available.

I mean, the climate is hopeless, Melbourne regularly has summer temperatures above 40°C and Montréal has several months of unbearable humidity and winters that are terrifying even to someone who lived in Sweden. But basically everywhere that isn't the UK has a worse climate than the UK. And I love the mix of new world and imported European flora. Melbourne just smells amazing!

The main reason I love Melbourne is that my very good friend MK lives there, as does my mother's brother, with their respective families. And likewise I love Montréal because [ profile] rysmiel lives there, and I have had the most amazing visits with them. And just last year [personal profile] hatam_soferet moved there too so now I love it even more!

[December Days masterpost]
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] ceb asked me, and lots of our mutual friends, What's your favourite museum? It's a really interesting question, because a museum is not the kind of thing most people have a stock favourite, and I've been finding other people's answers really informative.

So anyway, I will consider art galleries separately, because I have a prompt for later on to talk about art. Aside from great art collections well displayed, what I most like in a museum is that it should show me how things work. If I wanted purely factual information, I'd probably rather get it from just reading a book. And I can like collections of physical objects, but they have to be exceptionally curated, just objects with captions ends up feeling like I'm leafing through a catalogue. I mean, I had a soft spot for the old Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford, for precisely the way it was hardly like a museum at all, more like wandering around in the attic of an eccentric hoarder relative. And the new Pitt Rivers is amazing, because it's basically a museum about the kind of awful anthropology museum it used to be, a collection of artefacts, including human remains and sacred objects, that nineteenth century colonialists felt completely entitled to pilfer from anywhere in the world.

But more generally what I like in (non-art) museums is that they have working equipment and explain technology. Needs to be real or realistic replica machines; I don't go to museums to press buttons and watch dated CGI. I especially like the kinds of museums that are built right in the factories or other working places they are about. The north of England is a very good place for museums like that, and we went to some on our honeymoon, near some of the first factories built in the entire world. I also love reconstructed habitations, and I have very fond memories of visiting Sovereign Hill gold mining town near Ballarat in Australia, which demonstrates both how the mining technology worked and how people lived during that era.

If I have to pick just one favourite in this genre, I will go for Verdant works in Dundee. It really does show you clearly how the jute industry worked, including working replica machines (originally used for training engineers IIRC from a visit 10 years ago) which allow you to follow every stage of the process from fibre to fabric. And it explains how people lived in Dundee and the political and economic implications of the jute trade and its decline. I learned there about how a young Churchill was sent to talk down the uppity women's suffragists in a town that had almost total female employment (and almost zero male employment). It's run by enthusiasts, mostly retired people who worked in the jute industry during their working lives, and they're dedicated to detail at the level of scouring Europe for exactly the right kind of early tungsten bulbs so that the illumination would be period-appropriate. I still have my spool of jute thread and my little corner of jute sacking that I watched being made on the machines there, it smells gorgeous, but it's mainly something I just love as a souvenir of my time in Dundee.

So, many thanks for asking an excellent question, [personal profile] ceb!

[December Days masterpost]
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I am really enjoying this daily prompt meme, and one of the reasons is because [personal profile] ephemera has come up with several really excellently thinky prompts. This is particularly great because [personal profile] ephemera's DW schedule is just enough out of synch with mine that I quite often don't get to her comments, but the longer time scale of putting up a post soliciting prompts a couple of weeks ahead of filling them has worked really well. Anyway, one of [personal profile] ephemera's excellent suggestions was: you have a month of leave and an unlimited travel budget - where do you go?

imaginary voyage )

[January Journal masterlist. Anyone want the last empty slot?]
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I am going to write about my Canadian trip in list form, because otherwise I'm not going to get round to doing it at all. [personal profile] jack managed more of a proper post, which is probably more interesting for most people to read.

I may be a little too fond of bulleted lists )
And, while I'm making lists, here are some of the sources that came up in conversation during the visit, which might be interesting more generally.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Specifically, I'm travelling from Montreal to Toronto on a remarkably civilized conveyance which has roomy, comfortable seats, and free wifi, and my return ticket for the 300 mile journey cost less than what I usually pay for the Stoke to London train which is half the distance and far less pleasant an experience. The view is not the most interesting I've seen on a long train journey, but I'm enjoying the subtly different flora and landscape that make me feel on holiday. It's a misty early autumn day, with the famous North American fall colours just starting to show. Mostly brackens near the ground that are really bright, the deciduous trees are just barely starting to be tinged. The range I expect in the yellow-orange-brown part of the spectrum here extends well into red, including a sort of purply red I've rarely seen before.

how I got here )

Basically I'm absurdly happy, I'm spending most of my waking hours bouncing and grinning and squeeing. Yay friends, yay pleasures both sensual and intellectual. Part of the reason for this Toronto / Niagara trip has been to give our friends a bit of a break from hosting us, and it's likewise giving me and [personal profile] jack a chance to sit and catch up with the internet for a few hours in between cramming dozens of different pleasures into each day of our holiday. I think I'm about back up to speed with my reading lists, but do let me know if anything momentous has happened in your life or the world while I've been out of time for 10 days. When I get back to England I'm going straight into leading festival services, and once those are done the new academic year will start and in general my life is going to be pretty full-on from next week until Christmas. Which is another reason to really make the most of this unusually luxurious summer break.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I very nearly cancelled my long anticipated holiday because I just had too much to deal with at work. But I didn't, if nothing else because the fact of getting into such a state about work pressures probably did indicate that I needed a break.

what I did on my holidays )

The thing is that all the stressful work stuff I had piling up before I went away still needs doing, only now it has a short deadline (some stuff by the end of this week, a whole heap by the end of June). So of course I'm procrastinating by writing long DW posts instead of getting on with it. I do feel refreshed after a really good holiday, yes, but this is somewhat diminished by the fact that I still have no gas or hot water at home. The engineer came out today; I had hoped that he would confirm that this incident was just a false alarm and reconnect everything. But no, it turns out there actually is a gas leak, somewhere in the pipework inside the walls, not at the meter, boiler or hob. A small gas leak, but any gas leak is kind of terrible news! I can't quite tell if he's just doing that dishonest trader thing of sucking his teeth and inventing a dire-sounding problem in order to get more money, but I don't have any real reason to think that's what's going on. He's promised to come back on Wednesday to fit a new pipe, and assures me that it doesn't require any really major structural work. So this is extremely annoying and likely to be expensive (especially after a rather pricier holiday than I usually indulge in), but at least it's annoying and expensive rather than actually, you know, deadly. I'm safe now, as the gas is still shut off, but no idea how long I've been living with potentially explosive gas diffusing into my house.


Sep. 1st, 2012 02:00 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] jack's friend JB gave us a really cool wedding present: a note promising that if we booked flights and turned up at the airport in Croatia where he lives with his wife, he'd organize a holiday for us without us having to do any planning or make any decisions. In the end the wedding used up all our logistical energy for several months, so even that very minimal level of planning almost didn't happen until the last minute. But we made it in the end, and had the most gloriously relaxing holiday imaginable!

mostly for my records )

It's a weird experience for me to have a holiday where I don't do any planning or even any reading up beforehand, and where most of what I do with my time is sitting around chatting, migrating between where I'm staying, cafés and the beach. It was exactly what I needed this summer, sandwiched between the wedding and the very intense term that's about to start. And it was really, really wonderful to spend some time with a close friend of [personal profile] jack's, watching them interact and basking in the affection between them. There was also some time for some really good, productive conversations with my husband, just a bit of tweaking the way we relate to eachother to be even more supportive and communicative.

I would definitely like to go back to Croatia and do something more like the kind of holiday that I usually do, with more sightseeing and culture and a whole lot more preparation. Apart from anything else, I felt really embarrassed at being such a typical monoglot English tourist who couldn't even manage basic sales transactions and small talk in the local language. The landscape, the architecture, and to a great extent the cuisine (though we didn't really get the best impression of it as most of what's on offer is heavily based on meat and fish) reflect Croatia's geographic location: it's somewhat like northern Italy and somewhat like Austria, with distinct influences from Eastern Europe. Zagreb itself is a really amazing place to live, I very much admire JB for exchanging the rat race of a highly-paid job in the City of London for a much lower salary and a vastly better quality of life. But it's not a particularly impressive place to visit as a tourist; I think since it wasn't a major administrative capital until after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, it doesn't have any real must-see destinations, it's more of a generic, medium-sized European city. So if I go back, I'll probably put a higher priority on seeing more historic locations like Dubrovnik and Split, and with a bit of luck over the border to Sarajevo. And have a lot more clue of the history of this stunningly beautiful place.


Sep. 7th, 2011 03:25 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I like Manchester very much. Every time I step off the train into the city I can feel a distinct sense of brightening. But honestly I don't know the city at all well; when I make plans to meet or take friends there and they ask me for suggestions, I often end up saying, dunno, I, um, just like walking around and soaking up the atmosphere.

what I did on my summer holidays )

I feel a bit silly about this; I live barely and hour away from Manchester, and I am a great fan of the place, but in practice I rarely go there. And when I go there, I don't take advantage of all the city has too offer because I'm too busy being awed by how cool the city is in general. I want to go to Manchester and intentionally drink in excellent pubs and eat in fantastic restaurants. I want to take friends to explore the city's culture, whether it's famous tourist destinations or little quirky out-of-the-way places. I even want to plan shopping expeditions deliberately, rather than just wander about looking for shinies. I want to get involved in the famous gay scene. (I totally planned to do Manchester Pride this year, but I just didn't get things together to go to Manchester twice in one weekend.)

And I want to maintain connections with the three progressive synagogues there. I have the closest connections with Menorah (Cheshire Reform), and they do some great educational events, but that's out in the suburbs and somewhat of a pain to get to by public transport. I'm fond of Jackson's Row, but the only way I'd get in is by playing on personal connections with the rabbi there; I'm not in a position, financially or time-wise, to actually join the community. And Manchester Liberal, the community I'd really like to work with because they're small and new and Queer-friendly (and the other week they did an accessibility service, how cool is that?), basically only meet on Friday evenings when I'm already committed in Stoke.

I think basically what I want is to live in Manchester (not an hour away). I've realized this may be part of why I was so keen for [ profile] lethargic_man to take up the offer of moving with his previous job to Manchester: for me, that opportunity would be a wish from a fairy godmother! If only I could keep my current job, which is perfect for me, with my current institution, which I really like and appreciate, but live in Manchester rather than here, my life would be basically perfect.

I need to figure out whether I actually want to move to Manchester even absent a fairy godmother. The pros would be that I think I'd be a lot happier living there; I'm a medium-sized city girl at heart, and Stoke just has too little going on for me. My Jewish life would be amazingly better. And even if I had to give up my current spacious semi for a flat, I think that would be worth it. The cons would be job stuff; I'd probably have to get a new job, and yes, Manchester does have universities but there's no guarantee that I'd get a job at all, let alone as good as my current one. Or else I'd have to commute from Manchester; that would probably blot out all the advantages of living there rather than here. And I am committed to my community here; it's not unthinkable that I could come up to Stoke just for Friday nights, though it would be a pain and I'd be less able to support them if I lived out of town. And Manchester is just enough further away from my friends in London and Cambridge that it might tip the balance. As it is I'm spending most of my fun budget and nearly all my leisure time visiting people in the South-East, and that's probably why I don't just pop up to Manchester and do fun stuff.

And when I start thinking like this, I start getting itchy feet in general. Do I really want to commit myself to spending the rest of my working life in one job and one town? Getting engaged kind of means I can't just run off on adventures at the drop of a hat any more, and part of me resents that even though I don't have any specific adventures I wish I was having. Moving to anywhere that was not Manchester would have all the same disadvantages, only much worse: I might not find a job, I would (most likely) be further away from SE England, I'd have to drop my involvement with the community here. I suppose this is what you call having roots, isn't it? Weird sensation for me, when I've always assumed I'd spend my life flitting from country to country on short-term contracts.
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
So last week I organized a little trip to Chester with [personal profile] jack. His mother teased us about doing the clichéd "romantic mini break" thing, but it was just such a delightful, relaxing weekend that I don't care. Chester is very, very, very pretty. Mostly Victorian mock-mediaeval, but a bit of actual Mediaeval and plenty of Roman stuff including the famous walls, and a lovely setting on the pretty river Dee.

I left out all the soppy bits, I promise )
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
The fledgling Progressive community of Oslo invited me to visit them and run a shabbaton this weekend. I decided I'd do it, but use the excuse to have a little weekend break in a new exotic (to me) city. And [ profile] cartesiandaemon was brave enough to agree to join me.

Oslo adventures )

I really enjoyed working with this community. I got the impression that they really need me, not just someone, but me specifically. I'm not saying no-one else can contribute anything to them, obviously, but they like the fact that I'm young and clearly a lay person, yet coming from a position of knowledge, and they really seemed to respond strongly to my approach to Judaism. They also asked me how I felt about being "the token heterosexual", so of course I answered that I'm not all that het (um, yay bi visility?), and asked [ profile] cartesiandaemon how he felt about being the rabbi's wife! Actually this is the first time I've dragged the Beau to a service; I was so committed to community stuff this weekend that we'd have had no time together if he skipped the boring religious bits as he usually does. He was very noble about it, anyway.

On the negative side, [ profile] cartesiandaemon has given me his cold, but at least I had fun catching it, unlike my usual habit of picking up lurgies from all my colleagues who are parents of small children. I have to go to a conference tomorrow, and I'm speaking first thing on Friday morning, so I'd better get well by then. Not to mention I need to write my talk!
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Florence just about lived up to my expectations, and they were high. I think we picked the best possible weekend to go; the weather was sunny but not hot (it sometimes got a little chilly in the evenings, when the wind got up, but still pleasant), it was still tourist season with stuff going on and attractions open, but not insanely crowded or expensive. And best of all, it was some European culture weekend which meant that all the museums were free!

most amazing holiday )

I am so very blessed.


Sep. 6th, 2008 10:33 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
I'm just sorting through the very small number of photos I actually got round to taking when we were exploring the far north of Sweden. They are mostly not very good, which is partly because I haven't quite picked up the knack of photographing endless landscapes, and partly because Kiruna itself honestly isn't that photogenic. Anyway, here's a small selection of snaps of Kiruna (the last few are of the cultural museums at Jukkasjärvi).

I did manage to get one good shot of a reindeer (in a fairly small enclosure in the Sami cultural museum), though:

liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
I had the most absolutely lovely summer vacation, so very lovely that I didn't even feel inclined to run to the internet whenever I had a spare moment. I can hardly think of a time when I've intentionally cut myself off from the internet for such a long period, certainly not since the end of the 90s. Of course, that means that I never got round to writing up what I was doing (and I have such a backlog of book reviews). So I'm going to write at least some notes to remind myself for the future; unfortunately they are only verbal snapshots, as the other thing I completely failed to do was take photos.

bijoux )


Jun. 15th, 2008 10:53 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
I went on the international researchers group summer trip again this weekend. We went to a tourist spot called Mariefred, which contains a pretty old Swedish town and a castle with the delightful name of Griffon Island Castle.

tourism )

I have basically given up on taking decent photos with my camera, and I'm using it as a point and shoot until I can replace it with something that suits me better. This is partly a bad workman blaming her tools, but that camera really doesn't match what I want as a photographer. It is possible, but way more fiddly than I can usually be bothered with, to switch off the autofocus and auto light balance. Anyway, here's a selection of the least awful of the snaps I took during the trip.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
I can't believe it's been a year since [ profile] rav_hadassah left Stockholm! Anyway, I really wanted to see her again before she disappears to California to train as a rabbi, so I organized a long weekend in Holland. And it made lots of sense for [ profile] cartesiandaemon to join us; since we have geography anyway, we might as well travel to interesting exotic places to see eachother. The combination of romantic weekend, with exploring a really lovely place, with getting to see [ profile] rav_hadassah, made for a lot of wonderfulness combined together, and even so, the weekend surpassed my expectations.

yay! )

Yay lovely and cultured city! Yay seeing two of my favourite people and introducing them to eachother! Yay wheat beer! Yay snuggles uninterrupted by geography or company! I love it when my plans work to defeat geography. Oh, and [ profile] cartesiandaemon's account is much more witty than mine.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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