The Sultan’s Elephant

A huge elephant striding towards Piccadilly Circus, while a giant girl reclines in a deck chair in St James’ Park.

Splashing the crowd! A giant child Barrel Rocket

Helen’s mother and aunt had just arrived in London so we took them for a walk. We were lucky enough to bump into the biggest piece of free theatre London has ever seen – the Sultan’s Elephant! The elephant was absolutely awesome, surrounded by a human tsunami as it stomped it’s way down Piccadilly. It was brought to life by an army of puppeteers who had complete control over it’s ears, trunk and legs.

We walked down to St James’ Park, where another part of the production was unfolding. There was a giant girl, blinking and yawning, before reclining in her deck chair. She was obviously tired after her flight. The barrel rocket is half her size, so she must have been flying economy! Apparently this production was last performed in Nantes in 2005. I’ve put more photos on Flickr.

Easter in Provence

We spent the four days of Easter drowning in sunshine, great food and fine wine – toasting Alan’s imminent decrepitude. Helen, Katie, Lydia, Alan, Dina, Todd and I were in sunny Provence, France. Specifically Les Baux-de-Povence; a very pretty, fortified town that lords over the surrounding landscape. Lydia’s parents live in a beautiful house near the town, and were kind enough to act as our local guides, showing us the ruined castle, their wonderful garden, and taking us hiking through the neighbouring hills. They even posted my wallet back to the UK for me after it was stolen from our hotel room – thank you Morris and Mila!
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Shoot Shoreditch!

Shoot Shoreditch is a kind of treasure hunt – you’re given clues to places, people and things around Shoreditch in London. Your target is then shot… with a camera, and you are off, racing against time to solve the next clue. Which is why Helen, Phil, Karen and I found ourselves traipsing around Shoreditch, phoning friends with internet access, ducking into internet cafes for a quick google and madly photographing everything of interest that was bracketed in the camera lens. We of the “Fat Wombat” team were determined to put in a good showing – unfortunately technology let us down in the end.

It took about 5 hours (with a 1/2 hour break for a hearty pub lunch), but we had visited the various locations on the “treasure map”. Our digital cameras were heavy with the images of Shoreditch. Our answer sheet had every clue answered (or at least guessed at). We were ready to consolidate the images, hand in the memory stick for judging, and sit back for a quiet beer while we waited to be given our prize. I had my notebook out… the camera was plugged in… and I managed to dump down 3 photos before the camera died! Curses! We ended up handing in the memory stick anyway, and at least a few of our photos made it onto the competition website.

Whirlwind trip to Australia

Helen and I have just finishing up a two-week trip to Australia. Unfortunately we couldn’t see all the people we wanted to see because it was such a whirlwind trip. We stopped off in Tokyo for a night and went out with our friends for dinner. Tim and Anna showed us a current phenomenon in Tokyo at the tiny expat bars, which is loud 80’s music, photos of posing expats plastered over the walls, and lots of very drunk expats boisterously working their way to horizontal in the bar itself. We adjourned for some very tasty mojito cocktails at the Grand Hyatt in Rapongi. This was actually where we were staying, and very nice it was too! The room had one of those deep Japanese-style baths, and two showers. We certainly felt squeaky clean when we explored Tokyo.

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Winter Paris

Last weekend Helen and I, with our friends Mike and Alecia, and Glen and Claire went to Paris. The Eurostar is so quick and convenient… it’s pretty much 2.5 hours door to door. Claire and Glen have an apartment in Paris. It’s near the St Germaine area, which is a very funky part of town. Because they had lived in Paris for 4 years, we got taken to some very cool bars and clubs. Now Helen and I want to get a place over there!

Eye surgery

Yesterday (Tuesday) morning I went in to have Lasik eye surgery on my eye. It was a little freaky. Fortunately the freakiness didn’t last too long, and I walked out about an hour later a bit shakey and with foggy but clearer eye-sight. Helen helped me to walk home, and as I walked the anesthetic drops in my eyes wore off, and my eyes both hurt and started streaming with tears. I got home and took some asprin and lay in bed and listened to an audio book on my iPod.

My eyes started feeling a lot better yesterday evening, and today I feel almost completely normal (only with 20-20 vision!). I’m still a little worried of my eyes getting infected or something, but I am putting in my eyedrops regularly (anti-inflamitories and anti-bactarials). Tomorrow I’m going back in to work, and I’m blown away by how fast this whole process was. I reckon that if you told someone 10 years ago that they would be able to correct their myopia and be back to normal(-ish) within 48 hours, they wouldn’t have believed it.

Amato Saltone

Last night Helen and I, along with our friends Ben and Kate went to see Shunt’s production – Amato Saltone. It was very entertaining — and I love the space that it was showing in! I’d heard that Shunt had made so much money from a previous production, that they’d been able to buy the space they were performing in – the vaults in London Bridge.

In Amsterdam!

Helen and I, and our friends Mike and Alecia, were in Amsterdam last weekend. We had a great time over there! It reminded me a lot of Venice with all the canals. It was freezing cold over there – below zero (although not as cold as Russia is at the moment!). We stayed at Victoria Hotel, which is near the central train station (about 5 minutes walk). It is a very nice 4 star hotel, and I’d definitely stay there again. We went to Magazijn nightclub, which is a very nice and chilled-out club.

Alecia, Mike and Helen in Amsterdam

Using CVS and ssh under Emacs…

The easiest way to use CVS with ssh is to use ssh-keygen to generate a public/private key without a passphrase (so ssh won’t prompt you for a password). Upload the public key and put it in your ~/.ssh/authorized_keys directory on the ssh server. Try checking out your project now – you should be able to check it out without having to type in a password. Make sure the environment variable CVS_RSH is set to ssh so you are using ssh as the transport.

Put the following line in your .emacs file and you should be able to check stuff in and do version control using emacs and VC:

(setenv "CVS_RSH" "ssh")