Friday, January 31, 2014

Royal Museums, Greenwich

DSC03032 (975x1300)The Royal Museums site lies east of London, comprising the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, the Royal Observatory, and the Cutty Sark.  Historically a major anchorage on the Thames, and a residence of British Royalty since the 1300’s the town is filled with historic and scientific sites and is a World Heritage Site.


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I’d wanted to visit the Meridian, or course, the reference line for the world’s Longitudes, but also to see the Cutty Sark (I built a model of it as a child - no patience for stringing the rigging, I’m afraid) and the exhibition of Turner paintings.  The w.wezen joined for a crisp day under liquid-blue skies alongside steel-hued water, making it nice for catching up and airing out.

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The Big Ticket covers all four museums, but it’s nice just to stroll and get a sense of the grounds and the waterfront paths rather than spend a lot of time indoors.

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The Cutty Sark is also pretty impressive, just from the outside.

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And views from the Observatory, centered on the highest point in the park, are spectacular (as is finding the Prime waiting)…

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Splashing through a week of weather

crossing 2I think that the advice is ‘always keep the horizon in sight during rough crossings’.  A group of us took shelter near the front of the Dover ferry and tried to anticipate the most photogenic waves (harder than it seems) – taking photos together made the crossing a bit more congenial and exciting.

And, anyway, a good chance to play with burst capture and making animated GIF’s.

DSC02964 (1300x975)I arrived back in the UK Tuesday, one of my typical crack-of-dawn ferries, then made my way back up to Cambridge to give the annual Fireside chat.  My MBE MPhil year encouraged me to leave Corporate and become an entrepreneur, and I  always look forward to returning to share experiences, give encouragement, and offer some resources to others considering the jump.  It’s also an annual opportunity to reflect on the year since the last lecture.

I invariably find new lessons to be learned.

DSC03105 (982x850)2013 was certainly a year for that, teaching resilience, persistence, endurance, if nothing else.  It was challenging for me to go back through the chronology of issues raised and met, personal and professional, then to try to summarize events dispassionately for the class.  (When asked what one superpower I’d most like to have, it is Super Do-Over…).

There’s a lot to be proud of, breakthroughs and insights that came from hard work and dedication by a lot of good people. 

And I believe that life serves up the experiences, people, and opportunities that I am meant to have for each phase of the journey...we will get there.

DSC02991 (918x1300)It was good to get back to Sandbanks afterward: I think that I ‘m still pushed away by too many difficult feelings, pulled in by  the seaside solitude.  I’ve been taking coffee with friends alongside the winter surf ,  sorting work and catching up with errands, getting back into the daily routines and fitfully full night’s sleep. 

Is the disquiet a good thing?  The Shrink and Sage column in the FT recently asked “Can we be both content and motivated?” 

The Shrink saw the gap between “Where we are” and “Where we want to be” as motivating and healthy, so long as there wasn’t only dissatisfaction without appreciation of what’s good in the present, pursuit of an endless series of goals, or unfocused escape without any perspective on consequences to self or others. 

The Sage argued for the necessity of contentment and dissatisfaction in simple proportion: that we never be satisfied with unfulfilled promise, injustice, or preventable suffering.  Especially when change is in our power.

Storms have been blowing in regularly, dark waves and rain framing a sliver of sunlit sky along the horizon each morning and evening.

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The next gale hit as the weekend began, waves cresting the seawall again and sand drifting between the kiosks.  Its not really biting cold air, just blustery and stinging cold water.  Overall, a good time to head to London for a run at museums and dinners.

crossing 1Okay, one last animated GIF…

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A few new changes around the old town…

MinckeleerMaastricht has been around since Roman times, and especially in the central core the cobbled streets and serrated gables can seem as eternal as Rome itself.

But, in the Markt Square, I found that Market Forces have finally caught up with Jan Pieter Minckeleers.

Minckeleers is honored as the inventor of “illuminating gas”, the piped natural gas that we use for lighting, heating, and cooking. His achievements are celebrated in a statue in central Maastricht, featuring an ‘eternal gas flame’.  And, for as long as I can remember, this flare has been lit, always.

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However, in a bow to austerity and market dynamics, the Gemeente has extinguished the flame, adding a toll box that can be used to briefly light the torch for a few euros.  It also yields a ticket for a tourist lottery, but I have not yet seen anyone plug the machine.

I’m not sure how much the city actually saves with this strategy, but it feels unfortunate to link heritage and commerce in this way.  Hopefully, revenues don’t pay for the coin box, and Minckelers will get his flame back soon.

DSC02953 (1300x975)On a happier note, the empty restaurant downstairs has finally been rented again. following the bankruptcy of its predecessor over a year ago.  The folks at The Cle, next door, say it will be French—themed, hosted by one of the finest sommeliers in Belgium.  ‘scheduled to open mid-February, there’s been a flurry of folks through, fixing, fitting, and polishing all week.  The new owners look like nice people, and the event is putting a spring into my landlord’s walk.

DSC02963 (1300x976)Otherwise, the week has been unremittingly cold and wet, fit only for huddling with a Koffie and a Taartje under the blankets and heat lamps along the ‘skade.  Spring can’t come too soon.