Spent last Saturday to visit the RAF Museum in London. The museum is located at the former Hendon Aerodrome - one of the most important pioneering aviation centres in United Kingdom, and it's easily reachable with the Tube (Northern Line - Colindale station). As the number of air planes displayed is quite large, it will take some time to wander trough all the hangars and see all that's featured! Don't miss the Battle of Britain hall with a display of the most important airplanes who took part into the famous duelling above the skies of South England and London.
Just came back from a brief holiday in Italy. I've spent a couple of days in Tuscany (as last year - when I went in Siena) and this time I visited San Gimignano and Firenze. I never been to the former, but I went once in Firenze when I was in the high school, and never back since. I have to say that going back armed with a reflex camera was totally another story and I enjoyed taking some nice pics of the two towns.
San Gimignano in particular was quite charming: a small medieval / pre-renaissance with protruding towers all around the place. You can clearly spot it from the highway when you are still miles away. The town is quite small and intimate, you can enjoy some fine wine in a very calm atmosphere.
There isn't much I can say about Firenze ... it's already famous and well known by everyone! Just one advice: do absolutely go and visit Piazzale Michelangelo, the best view of the city is waiting you there. Or you can also climb the Cathedral's dome, if you don't mind over 460 steps!
Thanks to the very pleasant weather in the last week in London and the relatively quiet week-end, I had a chance to pick up my camera and go and take a few shots around. Main focus point was the trip in Hyde Park on Saturday, which is truly one of the best places you can be when the sun is blasting and the temperatures rise above 20 C . Was quite difficult to catch those swift seagulls but I managed to get a couple of good ones! Sunday was even hotter than Saturday, but I decided to leave home my camera to better enjoy the tour. I discovered a nice area near Tower Hill (St Katharine Docks, with boats, yachts and locks to gain access on the Thames) and went for a coffee in The Hay Gallery.
After more than three years I've finally managed to visit HMS Belfast, a WWII cruiser which is moored on the Thames, next to the Tower Bridge. The ship has been converted into a floating museum, and it's part of the Imperial War Museums network (being the IWML the main one).
The Belfast was a heavy cruiser in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Its main tasks were to protect the Atlantic convoy Arctic routes. It is mainly remembered for having participated in the sortie which eventually led to the sinking of the German battleship "Scharnhorst" off the coasts of Norway on the Boxing Day in 1943. This military engagement is quite interesting even from an IT perspective, as it stemmed from the advanced state of the British code breaking and decryption service at that time.
It was in fact mainly due to the work of the mathematicians and cryptographers experts in Bletchley Park on the German ENIGMA encryption method, if the British Navy could stage the ambush to the German battleship (if you are interested I suggest this book as a further reading - or this video for the sinking of the ship).
Back to the floating museum, I think it's worth a visit. It's quite amazing to traverse the various decks of the ship, knowing all the history that every inch of steel there has been testimony of. Up on the bridge, you can also enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding landmarks (the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the newly built skyscraper Shard of London). You can either wander on the command bridge, or plunge yourself into the hearth of the ship to visit the ammunition storage or the engines, wandering around in steep ladders and tiny corridors. Definitely one of the best attractions I've been in London!
Should you want to see a few of the pictures I've taken, please be my guest here.
I am pretty sure a proper British will be disgusted by my list, but I'll try anyway. So it's one of those nights where you don't really want to either cook or try to reproduce one of the typical Italian dishes you are so used to eat. So what you do, you run to Sainsbury's or to some pub, and try to feed yourself. My personal favourite list:
- Kettle Crisps: simply awesome, that's when you understand a certain latent obsession for crisps (not chips!) in those guys. The root vegetable mix is the best in my opinion.
- Curry: although I was not used at all to spicy food, I started with Kormas and now I moved to Tikka and Balti. I am told that I am way far from the hottest ones!
- Parsnips: I can't even understand how to say this in Italian. But they are quite good oven cooked wiht other veggies or with meat
- Beer / Ale: Yes, this is considered a full fledged nutriment in UK. You are officially allowed to only have chips as an accompaniment. But I usually like to ignore the social rules and have a ton of food along with it
- Posh Sandwiches: I have found that my choice of sandwiches is considered "posh" by some people here. Usually I have roast beef with horseradish if I can find it
- Bangers & Mash: A pub classic! When you order it, there is a high chance that it comes with parsnips crisps (or sweet potato) so it's a win/win
- Pancakes with cured ham and cheese: this is not British at all, but since I live here and I invented it, now it is. The favourite lunch break food.
- Butter: they put it everywhere. Olive oil does not exist. You can practically sprinkle some salt on a chunk of butter and eat it, that's considered a meal
And what about you? Anything you fancy in particular?
So after elaborate thinking I've come to the following conclusion: being in a gloomy and cold place most of the times, the northerners tend to seek refuge in work, as there is little to do besides that. Where do you want to go sunbathing when there is no sun and you are still wearing a scarf in May? On the contrary, the southerners are more keen in indulging in such luscious activities, which usually include eating elaborate food, and womanizing. As a result their economies go off the tangent more often, and eventually they suffer bankruptcy. Cause everyone is looking at the scanty clothes and the bond spread index is not as exciting. Any other insightful thoughts from you my readers?
Death in Vegas - Koko - Camden
Placebo - IndigO2
And soon enough the Coldplay gig, can't complain lately!
Are you looking to integrate / refresh your university studies but you don't have either the funds of the time required to subscribe and attend to university courses? Then you may as well have a look at Coursera and see if you are interested in any of their free courses. Let's have a look at their mission statement first:
We are a social entrepeneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
And yeah, is that simple. You subscribe, you add a specific course to your list and then you wait for it to begin! I have subscribed to a couple, but the start date is still to be confirmed, so I've found one which is interesting (Machine Learning), although I already did some of this in my MsC. Well, thought it was a good choice to get the student cap back onto my head and give it a go! So far (the course started on Monday, and yes you can still join) the format seems to be quite good, with plenty of video lectures / forums and studying materials (all free, of course). I'll tell you more when I've delved a bit deeper in it. There are plenty of subjects to choose from, and not limited to Computer Science. The courses are organized by well knows university (Stamford and Princeton, just to throw a couple of names in) and yeah, you won't get a degree this way! But if you have one already then it may be just a good way to keep your brain in shape and your knowledges up to date. Have you tried it?
(via Flickr blog). A nice display of night space pictures on Flickr on the European Space Agency profile, taken by astronaut André Kuipers who is now aboard the ISS. Using a special night pod to compensate for the station's movement and therefore allowing quite spectacular pictures to be taken! Have a look, there is plenty of recognizable spots which have been framed by the astronaut.
Although it should not surprise today, it's still quite amazing for me how someone orbiting around Earth can simply update his Flickr account with shots from a Space Station!