Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A good visit, but truly awful weather

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I’ve been in the UK for the past few days, organizing the tasks, contracts, and schedules for the research project which is being funded by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).  It was a good visit, the people involved are enthusiastic, capable, and willing to help, and it will be fun to finally get the key experiments underway.

We also made a major re-organization of the business to rebalance responsibilities and shareholdings to better reflect the contributions of the people involved.  That makes for some hard discussions with people who have moved on to new projects, but it’s important to get the core team working together and fairly compensated for their efforts.

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But it rained like I have never seen it rain.

For my London meetings, I parked in Greenwich and took the train into the city: cheap parking, very nice Electrostar rail cars from Southeastern, and frequent, inexpensive service to Waterloo station.  The rains just pelted the platforms, though, and made walking across the city a miserable dash through flooded walkways and dodging sprays from cars.  Cambridge was both rainy and frigid: my car was coated with ice each morning from layers of frozen rain.

The worst was trying to get back to Dover for the Calais ferry.  Bands of very low black clouds spiraled over the M20, flooding the expressway (all the worse for my driving a Fiat Panda, which held the road well despite being small enough to fit in a pantry).  A comfortable travel margin quickly dwindled as traffic thickened and slowed.  The TomTom went a bit nuts, pushing me off at Folkstone to take the train through the Chunnel instead of the ferry across the Channel.  I arrived at the Dover docks ten minutes past the closing for boarding, only to be diverted into the “Special Inspection” garage, where agents armed with flashlights inspected the engine, undercarriage, and boot.

I would say it never rains, but it pours.

In this case, though, the weather delayed the ferry by 20 minutes, so I got waved on-board and delivered back to France without missing the connection.  And the weather seemed to lighten as soon as I was out from Britain, nowhere near the same rain, wind, and clouds along Belgium or the Netherlands.

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