Category Archives: travel

Interregnum indeed

I last updated this blog at the tail end of 2009. Gleep! Quite a lot has changed in my life since then, starting with moving to a new country and starting a new job. But since I am back in my old stomping ground of Northampton/Florence, it seems like s good time to try this again.

There is no one reading this who doesn’t know that in the summer of 2010, I was offered, and accepted a job at Queen Mary, University of London, where I am now a Lecturer in Experimental Linguistics. In fact, I just completed my first year of teaching, and am now celebrating with a month long working vacation in North America.

I flew to Boston on April 2nd, spent a weekend in Northampton with friends, then drove up to Montreal to spend a week there visiting friends and family, and reconnecting with colleagues and potential future collaborators.

Last Monday I drove back to Northampton, and I’ve spent the week here working on data analysis, having meetings with collaborators, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I’ve been able to hang out with the dear old dog and cat who I left behind with former neighbors. Charlie the dog is sliding into mild senility at the perfectly appropriate age of 13. He doesn’t really seem to recognize me, which means there’s no angst about seeing him. He’s not bothered whether I’m there or not, but he’s perfectly happy with the attention.

Andi-cat is another story. She seems to be utterly furious with me. I’m not sure why, since she is apparently very happy in her new home. But she can barely tolerate my presence for 5 minutes before huffing off. It would have been nice to snuggle with her a bit, but I’d rather she be happy in her new home than pining for me. And her look of disgust when she sees me is priceless.


So I can leave her with a clean conscience, knowing she is not at all sad to see me go. 🙂

Other than being despised by cats, and spending rather a lot of time staring at computer screens, I’ve been enjoying watching spring arrive in the valley. Spring came rather too early in London for me to properly appreciate it, whereas it definitely feels like the time for it now. The earliest flowers are in full bloom.

If anyone can tell me what these are called, I’d be grateful.

The magnolias are just starting to arrive.

Although I only spent one year living here, it feels truly and deeply like home, and it’s been so wonderful to have the time to be here and reconnect with so many of my favorite people and places.

Tomorrow I’m off again. First to Boston to return the rental car, then to Columbia SC for 4 days to visit other friends/colleagues and stare at some different computers. Data awaits.



Filed under home, joy, my fabulous friends, travel


On Saturday we got our first little taste of winter – it snowed all day, but it was so wet that the next morning there was just a wee dusting of snow on the ground.

Enough snow to wet the appetite and make it actually seem like December after a November that often felt more like September. The weekend snow stayed around – we actually had 3 days in a row with temps below 0. I had a couple fun days of biking to work with snow on the ground (but not on the roads) for the first time in 11 years (the winter of 98 I rode all winter long. I was 23 and not yet entirely convinced of my own mortality.).

But this morning, we woke to this.

Now that’s snow! Nearing noon now, it’s still snowing and looks set to continue all afternoon. It’s very wet snow – which makes for very messy roads, but also plenty of snowmen opportunities (I saw two on my way to work).

Definitely no temptation to bike this morning, walking was enough of an adventure. The major temptation was to stay home and curl up on my couch with the beasties and wrap my outsides around some hot apple cider and spend the day watching the snow in front of the windows get higher and higher. But I resisted and left the critters to keep the couch warm without me.

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Filed under home, travel, winter

impromptu morning hike

With the sun rising a little after 5am these days, I’m generally awake and walking the dogs by 6am. It’s lovely to be up and out while the neighbourhood is still quite quiet and the temperature and humidity are still low. I don’t go out to the office that often in the summer, but when I do, it’s nicest to do it first thing in the morning, so I can be done my workday by 1 or 2pm. 

So this morning I set off at 7:12, well-breakfasted, happy with my outfit for the day, and generally feeling pretty pleased with myself for being in transit so early. As I went to get on the bus, I suddenly remembered it was now July and I would need a new transit pass for the month. The driver was in a good mood, so he waved me through. Fair enough, I’d be able to get my new pass at the subway where I transfer to my second bus, so I got on board.

About 18 minutes later, we pulled into Vendome, I got off, and headed down into the metro to queue up for the automatic guichet. Continue reading


Filed under travel

waffling my way along

I loathe travel planning. Not all of it, of course. The initial ‘ooh, I get to go to …’ is lovely, and it’s always fun to look up my destination on google earth, look up local weather conditions to start thinking about what to wear, start learning some basic vocabulary in the local language, etc. It’s all very exciting and romantic and makes a great distraction from whatever I’m supposed to be doing instead.

left luggage by flickr user paul_likes_pics

left luggage by flickr user paul_likes_pics

The part I hate is when I have to stop just thinking about it and playing around with various options and actually commit to buying tickets and booking accommodations. If I could possibly get away with walking into the airport with my luggage and buying the ticket at the counter then and there, I would. Having to buy ticket weeks and weeks in advance just feels so wrong and confining and frustrating. The upshot is that I often pay more than I should have for a ticket due to leaving it too late.

So I am very proud to say that I bought my ticket today for a trip that starts on July 22nd. That’s nearly a whole month away. That’s probably the longest in advance of a trip I have ever bought my ticket. I’m already starting to worry that maybe I should have waited a few more days, because what if I change my mind or need to do x or y or…

But the change fee is pretty high, so I am just going to have to make everything else work around it. I’m flying to Paris on July 22nd and coming home on August 13th. I still have to buy all the plane and train tickets that will get me from Paris to Dusseldorf to Osnabrueck to Berlin to Poznan, then two weeks later back to Berlin then on to Nijmegen, and back to Paris via Dusseldorf, but just having settled the transatlantic bit is a huge step for me. I feel almost like a responsible adult. 🙂

Of course I have barely thought about preparing my talks and lectures when I get there, but there’s still *lots* of time for that…

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Filed under travel