Monday 21 April 2014

A spot of sunshine

Holidays, no matter how brief, have an amazing ability to relax you. It's as if the world resets for a while and all the stresses and worries dissipate. Last weekend we disappeared off to the southern coast of Spain for a few days, and it turned out to be just what I needed.

Here's a flavour of what I did:

I managed to pack a reasonable amount! For once my "write a list, ponder for a couple of days on it, pack in the shortest amount of time you can" method really worked for me. Hand luggage only, including several pairs of shoes, all under 10kg :)

I spoke Spanish lots. We went to an area that isn't very touristy (especially not for foreign visitors) and managed to get by with almost no English being spoken. I usually get very nervous about speaking French or Spanish, but I seem to be growing in confidence and actually remembering key language (sometimes even at the point were I needed it!)

I walked on the beach, paddled in the sea and swam in an outside pool.

There were lots of churches and parades (it was Holy Week after all), a couple of castles and a lighthouse.

Procession of the paso through the streets. This one was on Palm Sunday so it depicted Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem.
The amazing gardens at Real Alcázar in Sevilla. I have so many pictures of this beautiful place that you may get treated to another post all about it!

Breakfast was tostados con tomate; lunch and dinner were tapas. What else does a girl need?

I arrived home with a slight tan and a smile on my face, even though our flight was delayed. Six days later and the smile hasn't gone yet!

Sunday 6 April 2014

Conference excitement

I was honoured this week to be invited to a performance based on the life of Alan Turing. Usually my mum or aunt does the "representing the Turing family" side of things, but on Wednesday it was my turn!

The show, entitled MIL-STD-1815, was a newly devised composition of acting, song and dance around the concept of "Can machines think?" A much better description of the play itself can be found here - a blog post by journalist Martin Ince who I met and chatted to. It was part of a week-long computing and AI conference at Goldsmiths University called AISB50.

Personally, I loved the quirks; the parts which showed Alan Turing's personality. Particularly the scene where he was searching for the family silver (he buried it in or around the Bletchley Park grounds at the beginning of WWII to prevent it falling into enemy hands. Unfortunately his map and memory weren't quite good enough for him to relocate it, and so it is still missing to this day!).

Following the performance, I met some interesting and inspirational people: Professor Mark Bishop (co-director and science/maths advisor on the show, as well as Chair of AISB50), Professor Barry Cooper,  the performers in the show and Maria Elisabetta Marelli, an Italian playwright. It was lovely to chat with people who rate Turing and his work so highly, and to hear more about what he did.

Maria Elisabetta invited me to her talk the following day, so I rushed out of work on Thursday and almost catapulted myself across London to make it on time. I was so glad that I did! 

The lecture was about a play that was performed in 2012 in Milan. A very well thought out play that looked at many of the concepts that Turing developed, using an amazing array of technology. The clips on their website Turing Case History were incredible and I wish I'd seen the actual show.

I hope that somewhere the funding will be found to bring the Turing Case History to the UK, although I'm very aware that arts funding is a huge issue here. It seemed to me that Thursday's talk initiated discussion between a couple of influential people in the fields of arts, computing and Turing's legacy, so maybe there is a chance...

My view of the stage for MIL-STD-1815, including the piles of sand which represent all the places Turing dug whilst trying to find the family treasures!

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Gone skiing

I finally had the skiing lesson that I've been promising myself since Christmas!

It went well. One hour 1:1 tuition, having only ever tried it once before about five years ago, and I was (fairly) happily zigzagging slowly the main slope! Not quite competent enough to ski without an instructor yet, but my next lesson is booked - want to build on the good work I put in before I lose it again :)


after - the bottom of one of my last runs