Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Piste again

Skiing at Sunshine Village outside Banff is quite fab! Lots of wiggly tracks weaving in and out of the trees with soft fluffy snow and not a soul in sight! And there are exciting little gullies so you pop out of the trees and then fall of a cliff. Great fun! It snowed yesterday and today here and it's NEARLY MAY! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Must have own spade!

I'm in Banff to do the closing keynote at the First International Conference of the new Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) and to meet up with old friends from around the world.

And because I'm here a day early, and it's Banff, I get to go skiing (woo hoo!). Friends will know I am permanently lost on most pistes, just skiing where the boots seem to lead me. So I was a bit suprised - having inadvertently enjoyed as a first run the Olympic Downhill course (but rather slower than the stars!) - to find myself on the double black Delirium Dive - steep but not too steep.

But I wasn't allowed to ski it - the problem was the (doubtless sensible) local rules: I couldn't proceed without my own shovel, an avalanche beacon device and a partner. Yikes! rest of the wonderful Sunshine resort was heaven though and they have snow here until MAY!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Austin Power

When I went off to university (mainly to sail!) my Dad bought me a car - it was an Austin 7, 1936 vintage! He knew, as an engineer and inspired inventor (interestingly we both got to be on BBC's Tomorrow's World, a generation apart!) that if I could keep it going as day to day transport, I would learn a LOT. I had to change the head gasket to even drive to nearby London and back!!

Doing the keynote at an RM conference today in the UK's Motor Heritage Museum I took a moment afterwards to look around the exhibits - and there was an identical A7. I was amazed at how I could remember EVERY nut and bolt, every detail - even the smell. So I guess he was right!

Monday, 21 April 2008

A bit of geek. . .

. . . goes a long way.

Rummaging through a drawer I found this shirt from late 80's or early 90's from Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in San Jose. I was a regular attendee. It reminded me of the days when these very geeky events were often full of policy and research folk, as well as programmers and the like. All present could mostly write a bit of code and crucially could thus CONTROL their own technology. Then, you couldn't do policy with a bit of geek in your veins - because otherwise the future would keep surprising you.

These days the worry is that this useful little veneer of geekiness has all but vanished. Geeks go one way, policy folk go another and there is not enough dialogue (if any). Result? Sometimes a fractured relationship between policy and practice. I think this needs addressing. . .

AND I learned to juggle at WWDC! but I learned so much more too.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Bear necessities

OK, I'm getting the hang of this: a brown bear isn't brown; a smaller bear isn't a Grizzly unless it's a small one; if a bear approaches lie face down and the bear will leave you alone - unless it is hungry in which case it is then a bit late for Plan B.

Bears can outrun you and climb trees, so you bear escape options are limited. . . Oh yes and you can tell the dangerous bears by looking at their paws. That's easy then! Hmm.

A moose on the other hand. . . .

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Piste and dunes

So. Sitting happy but exhausted. Two hours non stop of 5 minute laps in the AMAZING Dubai snow done thing (in scary-wobbly-loose boots!). And it really is like being on a (smallish, admittedly) mountain - look, it even has snowboarders sitting in the middle of the piste!

So, you ask, was it good fun? Well there aren't many mountains where I am nearly the best skier, are there (in fact, until today there weren't ANY)? So OF COURSE it was good. lol

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Hang on.. there's a mountain in my hotel!

...and it has ski lifts inside, and black runs and tobogganing and aprés ski and.... flip! it's HUGE. And full of real snow. I wondered what it was when i looked out of my hotel room here, it just looked big and silver and like a road to nowhere.

and tomorrow I go skiing after meetings (it's open after dark cos it's INDOORS!) and i am in Dubai and the outside temperature is 57 degrees C. I love this place and the"can do" attitude here.

"Yes we can" Obama? Bob the Builder? Nope, it personifies Dubai. What great fun.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

What goes up. . .

...must come down. And just how DO you take down the huge crane that has dominated Brightlingsea's skyline for over two years? The answer of course is that you get and even bigger crane to take it down with (at £11,000 per day!).

What is fascinating - and wonderful - about small communities is the way that they "flock" together for milestone moments and the crane was just such a milestone. Friends and fellow sailors all gathered in the "crane-zone", so to speak, to watch the spectacle, and of course to chat, so that our excellent local Coach House Coffee Shop ( which is fab by the way) had its busiest day on the Tuesday rather than the customary weekend.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Sailing on down the Thames we passed through the Thames Barrage - and one of the HUGE gates was closed (you are not supposed to sail through the gates, so we put the spinnaker up afterwards to enjoy a good blast down river to Southend, then turn left for home, give or take the lethal Maplin Sands). Cracker seemed pleased to be back to her life as a raceboat again.

The barrage was built between 1974 and 1984 - quite an engineering feat! My friend Derek Clark was a diver on the job and I remember him saying he could only see his hand if he put it on the glass of his facemask! I think he prefers working on America's Cup boats these days!!