Happy Geek

Maaike is off biking from The Netherlands to Norway, and I have been looking forward very much to some time to just sit down and play on the computer. I’ve been meaning to learn Elixir for a while, and I’ve been really enjoying it I must say.

I also went to a couple of meetups, the Ember JS meetup where I met up with my friend Lorcan who showed me around the Intercom offices. They have a free bar, free food, pool table etc. etc. Were I to be living in Ireland I’d definitely apply.

Lorcan and I at Intercom

I went along to the Ruby Ireland meetup and gave a talk on learning your editor. I think it went OK, hard to know really. One of the attendees pointed me to vimgolf, and, as suspected, there’s an endless amount to learn ;)

Me at Ruby Ireland, NZ as backdrop

Oh, and I also moved the blog onto a very slightly more modern setup (as you may have noticed by the menu etc.). Also, seeing as I write too much (according to SOME people), the pictures are all clickable and swypeable now. So just click on an image, then you can click left / right (or on the picture) or swype the image to go forward and backwards. Course, if you just come for the pretty pictures you’ll miss all the AMAZING writing, but hey ho.

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If there’s one thing to take seriously in life, it’s mini golf, or, as they call it in The Netherlands, “midget golf”. Maaike and I ended up having a game with her parents. Maaike’s mum crushed us all completely. Hopefully we’ll have time for a rematch before flying back to NZ. I have no idea what the pool-like game is, but it looks interesting.

Wilmy lining up a killer shot.Bitteballe. These things are greatno idea how this works.

Then it was time for Maaike and I to part ways for a month. I headed to Ireland to spend time with my family, friends, and computer that had been missing me very very much, and Maaike off to bike to Norway.

It has been a lovely time in Ireland. I’ve tried to earn my keep a little bit. One job was helping Dad (76 odd) lining the ditch. Getting a ditch lined is quite expensive, however, a family friend suggested going up to the local quarry and getting some of their leftover conveyor belt rubber. So, armed with a saw, a stanley knife, and a few other things we went to work. It’s heavy stuff, but perfect really. Anyway, job done.

Dad at roundstoneIn the ditchBeautifully lined.

I had a little time to spend with Liz before she headed back to Minneapolis, and we did get one photo of my siblings and me, which was great.

Me 'n my sibs.

Nice catch up with my friend Myra, and a most excellent sunset. I had no idea such things existed in Dublin ;) hehehe, ehem.

Myra and Isunset from Myra

I’ve gone for a few walks too along the beach. It’s funny how one changes, perhaps New Zealand, perhaps not – but I walked down to the beach, and then decided to just walk up to Killiney hill and back home (8 or 9 km round trip). I’d ever have even thought of doing that when I was living in Dublin, but it was actually a really nice walk.


shankill beachSign on a Luasmore cyclewayDad and I on Shankill beach

More catch up with friends, lovely evenings all. Oh, and I learned how to make mint-jelly too… those lambs won’t have a chance when I’m back in New Zealand ;)

Mint-jelly in the making.out 'n about with the climbers.more out and about.

Oh, and went out to see an opera about Nelson Mandela. It was good, though I would have preferred a little more story and a little less opera. Nice theatre though. Funny to walk past the Google offices in Dublin, quite the little tech-hub scene here it seems.

more pretty lights.pretty lightsGrand Canal venue

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I’ve been following Marcel’s beautiful blog for a long while now. They get away most weekends either hiking or climbing, or doing Via-Ferata. Marcel & Chrisi very kindly took us on one called “Hexensteig”. Only created recently, it climbs up a hole in the middle of a mountain (pretty much). Marcel has some nice pictures here on the trip too – worth checking out.

The method of climbing in a Via-Ferata is a little like the setup for caving. You have a harness with a couple of carabiners attached to it on slings. There are metal wires strung on the route attached by bolts every 2-4 meters. You clip yourself into the metal wire, and then when you get to a bolt, you transfer your carabiners one at a time (so you’re always attached to something). It was a little physical in places, very slightly overhung. It’s amazing how fast you lose climbing condition!.

The weather was supposed to deteriorate come midday, so we cheated and took the lazy-way up. Fun though. Oh, and Switzerland has signs everywhere.

up in the cablecarIsn't Switzerland prettyDecent signage.This way TO YOUR DOOM!

To get into the cave you had to do a tyrolean traverse. Of course, Maaike and I were old-hands at this from the Paso Del Viento circuit. Easy peasy.

Tyrolean entering the caveWITCH!AirSome other climbers passed us.A bench with a viewI have no idea.

Anyway, loved it. Really fun to be back in the hills. I must say, the prospect of a holiday of via-ferata’ing would be something I’d love to do. I believe Austria has a lot?!

It took about an hour and a half to get through the route, and then we walked on up the hill for a view. One crazy thing was the grass. This slope:

EXTREME! lawn mowing.Valleysmore signage


is at about 1,600m elevation. It’s on about a 45° slope, or so. It is also mown. When Marcel said that I thought he was kidding. But it really is. To keep the avalanches down. Check out the lawn mowing machine.

An EXTREME! lawn mower.

Finally, back down the hill (it took me 6 days to be able to walk properly again! my thighs are completely out of shape for this!) and then a quick dip in Lake Lucerne.

We went for a dip.Happy GroupBouldering

Many thanks to Marcel and Chrisi for taking us on this trip, putting us up in Zurich and generally being such great hosts. Looking forward to your visit to NZ ;)

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Travel in Europe is reasonably cheap, flights certainly are, as long as you book far enough in advance. Maaike and I weren’t quite sure what our plans were after Tuscany so we hadn’t booked anything. Flights back to NL were quite expensive. Trains are ridiculously expensive. However, if you’re Time rich, cash limited, Busses are a decent option. Eurolines seems pretty rubbish, but eventually came across “Flixbus“, a German company with a very good network and an easy to use app. It’s not a short trip from Florence to Roermond – about 20 hours or so by bus. Zurich however is nicely in the middle – and my friend Marcel lives there with his partner Chrisi – perfect opportunity for a visit.

Zurich is really nice actually. Very pretty, very expensive to live in. It has the biggest density of fountains of anywhere I’ve visited so far.

another zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountainanother zurich fountaindripfountain

It’s quite nice this relaxing travel, we came across a pianist and a flautist practising in a church, and just stayed to listen for a while. Lovely song – no idea what it is.

St Peters Church

We also had some quite decent thunderstorms while there. (could not see while driving! – we were the red dot in the weather map)

underexposed lightningmore lightning22-DSC_0473we were the red dotproperly raining.

I think I could live in Zurich, as long as I had a very well paid job! It has good access to the hills, a nice feel to it. It also has shops where you can spend 12K Euro on a watch. Probably a lot more than that if you want to. I thought about it, but the budget didn’t qqquuuuiiiitttteee stretch.

zurichmost excellent henspretty spiresrandomhehstreetplaying with reflection

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Familytime in Tuscany

After the NL party it was on to holiday in Tuscany. It’s a hard, hard life I lead. Flew into Pisa and quickly fixed up some legacy engineering issues.

set that one to rights.

Actually, the tower area is really cool, you can wander about for free which is quite nice. Of particular interest is the baptistery. Acoustically perfect, every 30 minutes a security guard comes in and sings a few notes cleverly calculated to achieve harmonics as they interfere with each other. Anyway, it’s hard to describe, just make sure if you’re ever in Pisa that you go to the baptistery, it’s free to go in if you’re praying.. Here’s a recording (not mine) – scroll to 1 minute 20 seconds..

After you’ve been into the baptistery, you can then go (not free) into the Cemetery. It has a statue of Fibonacci there, and the most horrific hell scene I’ve ever seen. Seriously graphic.

not sure what's going on here.vanity, it's a sinhellhellouchhell - flayinghellhell

From Pisa we drove to Barbarino Val D’elsa, a small village in Tuscany. My sister had picked out the place, and it really was superb. A “Palazzetto” (small palace) it was basically 4 houses combined into one. Massive. Liz had even worked out that the house would have the most killer view out over the countryside (something stupidly left out of the literature for the house… it would have been a main selling point if I was marketing it!)

more sunsetsunset from barbarino val d'elsa

Anyway, a week of exploring Tuscany, discovering the delights of “Vin santo and Cantuccini” (almond biscuity thingies dipped in a sort of desert wine), exploring Florence (Galileo museum and Uffizi), eating tonnes of ice-cream, finding a skeleton in a church and a wine tour (Chianti region)

rower in FlorenceUffizinyomyes, youmore ceilingsunset from barbarino val d'elsaceilingThe original hermaphroditedeceptivegrapesSaintly Figurelooks a bit like meponte vecchioexperimentsbig swirly thingyGalileo MuseumMore Domo29-DSC_0281

Oh, one final thing was the sculpture garden. I really enjoyed this one – called “Energy”

Energyjournalist tribute

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