Martin Orr's Blog

Sleeper train and Spring

Posted by Martin Orr on Friday, 30 April 2010 at 20:29

I had a week at home in Belfast last week. Since I resolved a couple of years ago not to fly for routine journeys, it is quite a long journey between Belfast and Paris. In the past I have always done this with a night's stop in England, taking most of two days. This time I broke my journey Paris to Belfast in Leeds for the Future Sounds of Swing weekend. This was almost the only lindy classes I have gone to since last June. It was a great weekend.

On my way back from Belfast to Paris, I took the sleeper train from Edinburgh to London. This allowed me to get from Belfast to Paris in 24 hours (with a bit more time required for travel at either end). It takes about 7 hours leaving at 11.40. The train during the day, which makes several stops, takes less than 5 hours. I suppose it goes slower to give a smoother ride and so that you can get a decent night's sleep. In fact you can stay in your cabin for another hour after it arrives. It cost me £35 with a rail card.

The room is very small with not much more than a pair of bunk beds and a sink. When I saw it I worried whether there would be space for my suitcase, but there was a shelf for it. I was sharing with one other man. It was very comfortable and the movement was barely noticeable. You get brought tea or coffee and a biscuit when the train arrives (in a disposable cup, I suppose so you can take it away if you want).

When I got back to Bures, as soon as I looked across the valley I could see that something had changed. The woods which cover all the upper part of the valley side had gone from brown to green. The leaves have come out on all the deciduous trees on the campus, which was only just starting when I left. This makes everything greener but less open.

no comments Tags lindy, paris, train, travel

Dancing in three cities

Posted by Martin Orr on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 13:26

Another while with no post, reflecting the quiet nature of life in Belfast (although I do have a partially written mathematical post). I have produced a website for Grass Roots Conservation Group; and I've been studying Miranda's Algebraic Curves and Riemann Surfaces (an unusual approach to the subject I think) and Mac Lane's Categories for the Working Mathematician (which leaves me feeling that I know the formal stuff but not the reasons why).

I managed to find some swing in Belfast. It's a pretty small scene, and the girls were quite happy to have a new lead. Muriel's, where people gather on Thursday nights, has room for about three couples to dance, which is plenty. A teacher has recently started beginners classes (broader swing more than lindy) on Tuesdays in McHugh's.

I spent the weekend at the Edinburgh Lindy Exchange, a much bigger dancing experience, and now feel like I've had plenty for a while. After that, I'm back in Cambridge and there is lots to be done now in preparing for the Cambridge Lindy Exchange for which we've had lots more bookings following ELX.

no comments Tags lindy, travel, website

Birmingham summer school

Posted by Martin Orr on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 21:12

I have just spent a week at the National Mathematics Summer School in Birmingham. Forty-two fourth/fifth form students are invited, the idea being to expose them to a broader range of mathematics than they get in school. Six sixth-formers are also invited; as well as being given some maths of their own, they are expected to look after a group of the younger children. I was at the summer school myself in 2001, and as a senior in 2002, but haven't been since.

This week had a strong geometrical flavour - four of the seniors' five sessions had a geometrical or topological theme, and there was much building of models of solids, either from plastic kits or origami. I gave the seniors a talk on hyperbolic geometry - a change from the Euclidean geometry I usually do at olympiad training camps. I think it went pretty well, and managed not to be too hard for them. I felt like I had not much to do overall at the camp, despite there being surprisingly few permanent staff. Still I enjoyed it, and it reaches a lot more children than the formal Olympiad training scheme.

Since the summer school finished on Friday, I have been staying with my aunt in Hove. I visited the magnificent Brighton Pavilion, the hilly town of Lewes and Seaford, on the sea. Tomorrow I am going on to France.

no comments Tags holiday, imo, nmss, teaching, travel

Train journeys

Posted by Martin Orr on Thursday, 06 September 2007 at 12:32

Last weekend I went to Cambridge for some Lindy workshops and a dance. The National Rail Enquiries website recently acquired some a new advanced search facility. Their example is to search for journeys from "Cambridge to Basingstoke avoiding London," exactly the journey I made (or at least the other direction) - avoiding London so I didn't have to take my suitcase on the underground. However I don't see why anyone would want to make this journey by train - it takes 5 hours 21 minutes, while you can get the train to Oxford and then get a bus from there in only 4 hours 48 minutes, and the latter costs two thirds of the price. (For comparison the train via London takes about 3 hours.)

On Saturday I also bought a train ticket from Basingstoke to Dun Laoghaire (near Dublin). This costs only £26 and takes about 10 hours. I have been having an increasing conscience about flying, especially going back and forth England to Ireland. I hadn't realised that you can book the ticket right through to Belfast for £35.20, although in this case that didn't cost me much because Irish Rail are doing an offer on the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise. That is even cheaper than going from Basingstoke to Belfast by plane, by the time you get to an airport, and not much more than Belfast to Cambridge.

no comments Tags basingstoke, flying, train, travel