Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Lite Weekend of Running

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

 We had a fun Bank Holiday weekend in South Wales competing in the OMM Lite. Christine and I were entered on the Long Score with her Mum having offered to mind the children at the event centre in Cwm-du, nestled in the Black Mountains. The Lite is significant as the event is quite different from the OMM itself. Firstly, as with the Capricorn, you return to the event centre on Saturday so there is no need to carry camping equipment or food. Secondly, the weather at this time of year was considerably better than your average OMM. Lastly, the event was restricted to using rights of way only. This latter point makes a major difference: the navigation was simple, the course was much more runnable, and lastly, it meant that the route choice options were much more limited.

In the seven hours on Saturday, we ended up running 53km – considerably more than either of us had been expecting. This included an ascent of Waun Fach. Unfortunately, with Pen Cerig-calch effectively out-of-bounds it also meant that, with two hours to go, there was nothing for it but a long run back round the lanes and connecting footpaths, picking up a few checkpoints on the way. We finished the first day in second place. The winners were miles ahead of us (rumour has it that they ran a further 10km) but there was another mixed pair just behind us who we knew had been running faster than us.

The map had all of the available checkpoints for the weekend marked on it and, although it was only at the start of each day that you discovered the controls that were open and how much they were worth, there was still plenty of opportunity for route planning on Saturday night. In the end, we only made one small tweak to the route I had chosen, taking in Mynydd Troed at the beginning and returning to Mynydd Llangorse, where Christine’s Dad was stationed, towards the finish. With blisters from her new Inov-8s, Christine chose to wear road shoes on Sunday and wasn’t significantly disadvantaged. In contrast, my new Inov-8 Talon 212s didn’t give me any trouble despite only having worn them for half an hour before the event.

Rather embarrassingly, our attempt to avoid the Brecons over Easter backfired completely as there was a control within 50 metres of where we had parked the car at Llangorse Lake! It didn’t give us any advantage though with no option for canoeing across the lake! Christine’s knee started to give her some trouble with 1.5 of the 5 hours still to go but she soldiered on and, as we had time, was even persuaded to take in an extra control at the end. This brought our distance for the second day to nearly 35km, gave us a win for day 2 and confirmed our place as second overall and first mixed-pair.

Overall, a fun weekend although, as I say, quite different from the OMM. It was certainly family friendly with the children enjoying the organised walks and the mountain bike skills course laid on at the event centre. The Lite format has another couple of events in the south with the Chilterns and Surrey Hills but, even with the requirement to stick to the paths, I don’t think they can compete with being out on the open fells.

 

Easter Part II

Friday, April 21st, 2017

After the JK we headed over to Monmouth to spend a few days with Christine’s parents. The Tuesday was a lovely day and we stopped off at Westonbirt Arboretum on the way. Although a little pricey for a Forestry Commission venue there is plenty to see and we spent more time there than we had originally intended. As with, I suspect, most first-time visitors, we set off along the Treetop Walkway that takes you 13 metres up into the trees. As well as being a beautiful structure, it also has a mine of interesting information (most of which I’m afraid I immediately forgot).

After a picnic lunch, we continued around the Spring Trail which took us through the Cherry Glade to the Silk Wood barn where there was a selection of Easter activities on offer (and an opportunity to stock up on yet more chocolate!). After briefly checking out the play area next to the café (Emma was stretching the declared age range a little), we continued on into the Old Arboretum. As well as dog free zone, it also seemed to be largely toddler free which made for a much more peaceful walk than the first half.

On Wednesday we headed over to Llangorse Lake to meet up with Christine’s cousin, her family, and her extended family-in-law. We started with a walk around the lake where we temporarily lost a pair of shoes in the mud where the field had been under water just a week or two ago. Having returned to the cars for lunch, we then took to the water on an assortment of different boats (rowing plus one- and two-seater and Canadian canoes).

Christine headed off to a conference in Birmingham of the next two days and the rest of us had a quiet day around Monmouth on Thursday. We still managed to visit the Museum (an eclectic mix of Nelson and Rockfield Studios memorabilia) and Shire Hall both of which were firsts for me despite 20+ years of visiting the town. The latter is full of gruesome stories from its days as Assize Court.

On Friday I returned home with the children but we stopped off on in Gloucester on the way back with Christine’s parents. Emma hadn’t got her climbing fix at Llangorse so the kids went bouldering at The Warehouse. We then had our lunch down by the quays and wandered around the waterfront until our parking ran out.

Just two more days until everyone is back at work!

JK 2017

Monday, April 17th, 2017

We spent most of the Easter weekend south of London orienteering at the JK. We didn’t go to the sprint on Friday (quite frankly, it didn’t seem worth the high entry fee) so our first event was the medium race on Saturday on Ambersham Common. Christine went out first and had a respectable run finishing third on W40. I amused the children with the string course before we walked Emma to the start for her first W10B course. Unfortunately she took a wrong turn and missed out a control, something that Duncan didn’t repeat when he then ran the white course with Christine in tow (it was the same course as Emma’s). I had a scrappy start to my run, wasting a good couple of minutes on #7. Roger Goddard gave me a tow for a while until Geoff Ellis took him away. 12th place was set to become a recurring theme for the weekend.

Part of the draw for the weekend was a chance to catch up with friends over from the Czech Republic and we had a nice meal on the Saturday night. Sunday was the classic distance race and I had a long trek over to my start in St Leonard’s Forest. No major blunders this time but I don’t have the speed in the rough terrain as the course wound its way back on to the Holmbush map and I finished… 11th but still 12th over the two days! Emma took another wrong turn on her course but recovered successfully this time. She was still beaten by Duncan though who went out on his first course unaccompanied. Christine had another successful day in the forest and we stayed to watch her collect her 3rd prize.

There was just a string course for the children on Monday and Christine and I made up either end of a Men’s Short team. I was off first and was pleased to discover there were only seven finishers in front of me with second place under 90 seconds ahead. Dan put in a sterling effort for his first relay, holding on to 8th place. After Christine’s run we finished a respectable… 12th.

It was a fun weekend of orienteering and, probably most importantly, the children seemed to have enjoyed themselves and are looking forward to our summer orienteering holiday.

Presentations from IBM InterConnect 2017

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

I’m finally back home after what feels like a very long week in Las Vegas at IBM’s InterConnect conference. I promised that I’d post my presentations on SlideShare and I’ll add a few comments here on how each session went.

After an Inner Circle session on Sunday, my first public session of the week was an introduction to containers with WebSphere traditional. This played to a full room which suggests that there is significant interest in the use of containers for existing workloads. Indeed, that was the point of the second half of the session, to describe scenarios where it may make sense to use containers with traditional WebSphere. That’s not to say that it always does and, during one-to-one sessions during the week, I found myself repeatedly cautioning customers against rushing in to the use of containers, particularly with ND, just for the sake of it.

How to Containerize WebSphere Application Server Traditional, and Why You Might Want To from David Currie

My next session covered our new announcement around Microservice Builder. I’ll not say more here as I’ll cover this in a separate post.

Microservice Builder: A Microservice DevOps Pipeline for Rapid Delivery and Promotion from David Currie

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to deliver this session on Liberty and IBM Containers as it clashed with another that I was presenting. As touched on briefly in this presentation, one of the other announcements at the conference was for support for Kubernetes in IBM Containers. There was lots of excitement around this and I urge you to go and check it out for yourself.

WebSphere Liberty and IBM Containers: The Perfect Combination for Java Microservices from David Currie

On Wednesday I had a joint presentation with Brian Paskin looking at options for scalability with Liberty and containers. This was very much Brian’s presentation though so I shan’t post it here. There was an accompanying lab in the afternoon that looked at Liberty collectives and at IBM Containers.

My last session of the week was looking at some of the options when choosing a container orchestration platform: from Liberty collectives, through Swarm and Docker Datacenter, and Kubernetes with IBM Spectrum Conductor for Containers and IBM Containers. Many customers I spoke to this week were looking for a single definitive answer here but my response for now is still very much “it depends”.

Choosing a Container Platform for your WebSphere Applications from David Currie

Find me at IBM InterConnect 2017

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

I’m going to be at IBM’s InterConnect conference this coming week. If you’re going to be there too, there’s a quick run-down of the sessions I’ll be presenting below. The astute will notice that, due to a scheduling snafu, I’m supposed to be presenting two sessions at the same time on Tuesday. If you go to the Liberty/ IBM Containers session then I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with Tom – be kind to him!

If you want to chat about any combination of microservices, containers and WebSphere, you can find me on the microservices ped in the WebSphere area of the expo hall from 5-7:30pm on Tuesday and again from 3-5pm on Wednesday. I’ll be kicking off the latter with a live demo of Microservices Builder, of which more in another post. For Inner Circle customers, I’ll also be talking about this topic at 11am on Sunday.

HAJ-5451 : How to Containerize WebSphere Application Server Traditional, and Why You Might Want To
Date/Time : Mon, 20-Mar, 11:15 AM-12:00 PM
Location : Mandalay Bay South, Level 2 – Surf D
Presenter(s) : David Currie, IBM

BMC-7014 : Roundtable Discussion on Building Java Microservices with WebSphere Liberty
Date/Time : Mon, 20-Mar, 02:00 PM-02:45 PM
Location : Mandalay Bay North, Level 0 – Tropics A
Presenter(s) : Alasdair Nottingham, IBM; David Currie, IBM

BMC-7085 : Meet the Expert on IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty on Docker
Date/Time : Tue, 21-Mar, 02:30 PM-03:15 PM
Location : Concourse, Bayside B, Level 1 – Meet the Experts Forum # 1
Presenter(s) : David Currie, IBM; Tom Banks, IBM

HAM-5526 : IBM Microservice Builder: A Microservice DevOps Pipeline for Rapid Delivery and Promotion
Date/Time : Tue, 21-Mar, 03:45 PM-04:30 PM
Location : Mandalay Bay North, Level 0 – Islander F
Presenter(s) : David Currie, IBM; Jeremy Hughes, IBM

BMC-5983 : WebSphere Liberty and IBM Containers: The Perfect Combination for Java Microservices
Date/Time : Tue, 21-Mar, 03:45 PM-04:30 PM
Location : Mandalay Bay North, Level 0 – South Pacific A
Presenter(s) : David Currie, IBM; Tom Banks, IBM

BMC-7014 : Roundtable Discussion on Building Java Microservices with WebSphere Liberty
Date/Time : Wed, 22-Mar, 08:00 AM-08:45 AM
Location : Mandalay Bay North, Level 0 – Tropics A
Presenter(s) : Alasdair Nottingham, IBM; David Currie, IBM

BMC-2714 : Utilizing WebSphere Application Server Liberty in Docker Containers for Scalability
Date/Time : Wed, 22-Mar, 10:15 AM-11:00 AM
Location : Mandalay Bay North, Level 0 – South Pacific A
Presenter(s) : Brian S. Paskin, IBM; David Currie, IBM

HAJ-2718 : Utilizing IBM WebSphere Liberty in Docker Containers for Scalability (Lab)
Date/Time : Wed, 22-Mar, 01:00 PM-02:45 PM
Location : Mandalay Bay South, Level 3 – South Seas H
Presenter(s) : Brian S. Paskin, IBM; David Currie, IBM

BAS-5901 : Choosing a Container Platform for Your WebSphere Applications
Date/Time : Thu, 23-Mar, 10:30 AM-11:15 AM
Location : Mandalay Bay North, Level 0 – South Pacific A
Presenter(s) : David Currie, IBM; Tom Banks, IBM

Summer Holidays: Act Three

Monday, September 5th, 2016

This final instalment is mostly taken up with our actual summer holiday. Taking a holiday in Britain at the end of August can sometimes be testing the definition of summer and, as we set off for Pembrokeshire, we were heading in to gale force winds. To be fair, this kept the roads fairly empty and, when we arrived at Broad Haven, meant there were some impressive waves breaking against the sea wall. We were staying in a ‘lodge’ at the same place we’d stayed six years earlier when Duncan would have been about 9 months old.

St David's CathedralSurfBy the following day, the wind had died down enough that Christine and the children could test out their new wetsuits body boarding in the sea. Unfortunately the rain returned before too long and we had to test out the selection of board games in the lodge. Things weren’t much better the following day and we tested out the swimming pool in Haverfordwest before taking a trip to St David’s for a look round the cathedral.

Pembroke CastleEmma body boardingThe sun finally made itself felt after that and we spent two pleasant days at the beach. Duncan has thankfully learnt not to eat sand in the intervening years! On another day we visited the privately owned Pembroke Castle which was a trip down memory lane for me having been there during a junior school trip to Tenby. We fell in on a guided tour where there was a good selection of gruesome stories to entertain the children. It was also, slightly randomly, circus skills day, and the children greatly enjoyed the Punch and Judy show.

Marloes PeninsulaSealsWe also revisited Martin’s Haven where the martins are still in residence in the toilets! We debated a trip to Skomer Island but it was too late in the year to see puffins. Instead we just wandered the cliff top path, looking down on the seals and their newborn pups below.

Llyn IdwalAs with our last trip to Pembrokeshire, it was followed by a drive up to north Wales. In an unfortunate reoccurrence, Emma was once again car sick on that journey. We stayed a couple of nights in Caernarfon to be close to Christine’s cousin and extended family who were staying on Anglesey. We took the children for a walk round Llyn Idwal which was unfortunately shrouded in damp mist. Christine and her cousin did a run/walk up to the Glyders and such was the visibility that they managed to descend on the wrong side of Tryfan!

Dave in the seaNewboroughIn contrast, we had glorious sunshine for the following day’s visit to Newborough Sands, scene of the British Orienteering Champs in 1995. While the others set off along the beach to the island (at least it’s an island at high tides) I had a run round the 10K+ Commonwealth Trail Champs route which is signposted.

We relocated to Bryn Gwynant Youth Hostel for the next couple of nights but met up with Cath and family again at Pen-y-Pass for an assault on Snowdon. Thankfully, unlike our last Snowdontrip along the Miner’s Track, no running buggies or baby carriers were required and this time the children made it all the way to the summit of Snowdon. Unfortunately the cloud never lifted as forecast and it was pretty miserable on top, not helped by the café being closed and Emma was heartbroken that she wouldn’t be able to spend any money in the shop! We descended back down the tourist track in to Llanberis for the traditional refuelling at Pete’s Eats.

Wilderhope ManorChristine had a grant interview in Swindon on the Thursday so we departed Wales and spent a night in the rather grand YHA Wilderhope Manor on Wenlock Edge. The stay was even more grand for the fact that our ‘en-suite room’ turned out to be the bridal suite! The mere presence of a bridal suite is a good indication of why we have never been able to book a room here at the weekend when orienteering in Shropshire.

Whilst Christine attended her interview, we amused ourselves at the nearby STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway. It was billed as being an excellent way to pass STEAMa few hours and so it proved to be. There were a relatively small number of locomotives on display but this meant there was plenty of space to stand back and appreciate them. There were also lots of diversion for the children which meant that I could actually read some of the material on display. I hadn’t appreciated the extent to which Swindon owed its existence, or at least size, to the presence of the railway.

Paultons ParkThat brought us back home but, with Christine working a weekend open day at the University, I still had some child-minding to do and we decided to tick one more item of the children’s bucket list for the summer: a return trip to Paultons Park. The answer I posed at the end of my last blog post on this subject was 5 years, although Emma has managed a trip there with school in the interim. The children’s tastes have certainly matured and we only had one ride in Peppa Pig World (although this was possibly my worst with Duncan attempting to spin our cabin as fast as he could!). Thankfully the queues are somewhat shorter in other parts of the park, including the new rides in the Lost Kingdom. Emma demurred at some of the rides but this only spurred Duncan on and sadly he was the one who still needs to be accompanied by an adult on many of them! In the end, Emma caved in and joined us on everything. The only ride we didn’t do (although Duncan was definitely eyeing it up) was the Edge.

Summer Holidays: Act Two

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Dyrham ParkWe returned to pick the children up from Monmouth the following weekend, stopping off at Dyrham Park on the way back. Quite apart from it being a convenient place just off the M4 to stop for lunch, the children had last been there when the roof was in the process of being replaced following a fire and were keen to see how it now looked. The scaffolding that they had previously ascended to look down on the roof was all gone and, at least externally, the property was once again looking in fine form.

Emma runningChristine and Duncan runningOn the Sunday Christine took Emma along to the Junior parkrun in Southampton. Emma must have enjoyed it as she was persuaded out their again the following weekend where, despite getting a lower place, she managed to beat her previous time. Duncan also decided that he would go round this time with Christine. Thankfully he managed to maintain a respectful distance behind is older sister! All of this now means that I’m the only one in the family never to have run a parkrun despite being the first to register for a barcode! Duncan climbingI ran home whilst Christine and the children went to investigate what turned out to be an open day at Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre. This gave them a chance to test out their climbing skills yet again.

Spinnaker TowerChristine and I took it in turns to mind the children the following week. I took them down to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the train for one day. We went up the Spinnaker Tower first which, to be honest, was a bit of a let down. Other than a view out over the Solent to the Isle of Wight there really just isn’t much to see. There was quite some queue to get in to the dockyard itself but we can return on our ticket at any point during the next year and won’t have to suffer the queue again. After a stop for lunch we headed over to see the Mary Rose in her new dry state. Mary RoseIt’s very well done with the skeletal remains of the one half of the ship on one side and the retrieved contents was laid out on the other in decks as it would have been found on the ship. Unfortunately I think the sheer age of the ship and the remarkableness of the fact that any of it actually remains today was lost on the children.

HMS WarriorEmma had been to see HMS Victory before with school and Duncan will go this year so we then took a look around HMS Warrior. Despite the fact that pretty much only the shell is original, the children still got much more out of out this. Later in the week we took a trip out to Mottisfont to check out the Beatrix Potter trail. On what was a sunny day, it was absolutely heaving and I think the children may finally be starting to outgrow some of the activities (although not the ice cream at the end!).

Howzat!Excitement for the following weekend consisted of a trip to the Ageas Bowl, this time to watch women’s Twenty20 cricket. It was every bit as exciting as the men’s game and the home side of the brightly clad Southern Vipers played a convincing victory over Loughborough Lightning. It was then back to work for Christine and I with the children attending summer camp at their school for the next week.

Summer Holidays: Act One

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

The Summer school holidays began with an event of mixed emotions as I coaxed the ailing (flightless and quite possibly sightless) juvenile crow that had occupied our back garden for the past month or so in to a cardboard box. Whilst I was out at work, Christine and the children deposited it at the local vets. What its fate was there we don’t know. It does, however, mean that we are no longer woken early by its cries for food and that we can hang the washing out unmolested!

Go ApeThe fun started in earnest at the weekend when we took the children to Junior Go Ape at Itchen Valley Country Park. Emma has been angling to go for some time now. They are both old enough/tall enough to be able to go round on their own so Christine and I could watch from ground level. Go APeUnlike the adult version, you’re attached permanently to a wire from start to finish which places some limits on what you can do but means that there is no chance of them falling and there is no faffing around with clipping and unclipping the whole time. They also get to go round the two loops on offer as many times as they like in the hour slot which, in Emma and Duncan’s case, was lots!

ExburyExburyExburyI looked after the children for one day the next week and we took a trip down to Exbury Gardens. The gardens are probably not at their best at this time of year but I was still taken aback by quite how deserted the place was. ExburyWe went round the family trail which was educational for all and then took a ride on the train. We’ll have to return again in the autumn or spring.

Camping PodFor the second half of the week, Christine and the children were checked in to a ‘camping pod‘ at South Downs Youth Hostel which they all seemed to enjoy, even if they did spend rather a lot of time waiting for Southern Rail.

Bristol ZooBristol ZooThe children were staying with Christine’s parents for the second full week of the holiday. We drove them up and met up with Christine’s brother and family at Bristol Zoo on the way there.Climbing It’s amazing how much they pack in to such a small area and it’s certainly the equal of Marwell.

Whilst away, the children enjoyed some more high altitude action with a return trip to the climbing wall at Llangorse Lake.