Biography/map project – all the places I’ve spent the night

A few weeks ago, in those crazy moments between turning off the light and actually falling asleep, I had an idea to make this map as a way of preserving memories: a map of everywhere I’ve spent the night in the UK.

View Places I’ve spent the night in a larger map

I’ll call it an ongoing project because a) I’m not dead yet and will (hopefully) spend the night in other places in my life, and b) I might remember some things I’ve forgotten thus far, but I think it’s pretty complete. (The one major exception at the moment is the location in Wales where I spent my first birthday – got to find our roughly where that was. I suspect there also might be a few more around Merseyside – mum & dad’s friends/family – from when I was very small.)

The pinpoints with a dot in them are precise, the ones without a dot are not as precise either because it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly where it was (such as camping at a festival) or for privacy reasons (nearly all private houses are dropped at the nearest cross-roads). The only one that is inaccurate because I can’t remember exactly where it was is the one in dropped in Hexham – we got a lift from Hexham station to a nearby village, and I don’t think I ever knew what that was called.

The colour of the pins represent how many nights I spent in the location in a nice spectrum- light turquoise-y blue is 1-2 nights, mid-blue is 2-4 nights, deep blue is 5-10 nights, pinky-purple is more than 10 nights and red, a home of less than a year. Long term homes (a year plus) break the nice getting-redder colour sequence and are in green.

From the map, it appears I have never spent a night in Lancashire proper, including Greater Manchester (unusual given the clusters on either side of it), or in Wales apart from when I was very small.

On the off-chance I’ve spent a night at your house, or spent a night with you somewhere I’ve forgotten, do please let me know so I can add it to the map. Either leave a comment or email me.

I very much like the idea of making a hard copy version of this from a big map and a whole lot of coloured pushpins. One day…

The only photo I took in Madrid

calle de la paz street sign

Things we made in Staithes

John and I have just returned from another fabulous holiday at Northside Cottage in Staithes.

We first went in January 2006 and loved it to bits but what with starting our own companies and everything, we’ve not really had time to go again. We finally decided a break was in order last month and though we both had to work a little bit every day, it was just as wonderful and relaxing. Except the bit where we nearly drowned, that wasn’t particularly relaxing.

Things we made in Staithes:

  • John made a mushroom risotto, which was lovely despite us forget our bag of fridge food so not having any garlic or the nice mushrooms we’d bought for it.
  • I made fiery ginger biscuits on the first night – unused to the oven, I burned the first trayful but the second batch was spot on. Not bad considering it was all off-recipe and completely estimating the quantities of everything.
  • I made John a pair of mittens – my first entire double-pointed needle projects. I was chuffed with the first one – great thumb gusset, rounding at the top and everything – but the second one was even better (albeit with a slightly stubby thumb) and John says they’re super warm, so all hail me.
  • We made ick faces when the grease from our fish and chip trays re-solidified while we were eating in the cold, cold, wind.
  • We made 16p on the 2p machines in an amusement arcade in Whitby. We promptly “reinvested” it.
  • We made a new rule for air hockey: no scarves allowed, or rather no dangling scarves allowed to block goals.
  • We made a lot of fires: the cottage’s storage heaters etc do a fine job but there is a reason we go there in winter – pretty much constant open fires (and fewer people about too).
  • We made an incorrect judgement about the size of a wave while watching the sea on the Staithes breakwater thing. Said incorrectly judged wave made us very wet from head to toe. (see above note re: nearly drowning).
  • John (or rather the sea) made John’s very expensive phone no longer work. We also had to dry out the contents of our wallets in front of the fire.
  • We made me a little less fearful of fire but more scared of the sea (see above).
  • I made the wearing of pyjamas into a garish art form.
  • We made a lot of holiday-related Twitters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25.
  • I re-made half a slipper twice before giving up because I decided I needed different type of wool – it is a simple crochet pattern that will result in a very cute slipper though so I’ll definitely give it a go again.
  • I made lots of “aww”ing noises at all the dogs I saw around the village and walking past the cottage.
  • I made friends with a ginger cat, who chased a duck outside the cottage then walked with us into the village.
  • We made sad faces whenever we remembered our lovely felines – we missed them so.
  • John made a Debian/Ubuntu package for Sphinx, a Ruby “Enterprise Edition” one and a GlusterFS Nagios plugin. ie, he fiddled on his laptop a lot.
  • I made lentil & sausage casserole from handmade-by-the-butcher-in-the-village sausages. Served it with herb & parmesan scones — another complete guestimate of the quantities of everything but they worked splendidly. A lovely, lovely comforting winter meal. Will post the recipe because it rocked.
  • I made a pointless but silly video of some ducks swimming around on the beck.
  • We made cities and roads and rivers and farms after buying Carcassonne from the fab games shop in Whitby. We liked it so much we went back today and bought an expansion pack for it too. Expansion packs for board games = awesome!
  • John made a great spaghetti bolognese. We had bought pork mince to make it like his grandma does but left it in the forgotten fridge bag at home in Leeds so had to make to with beef mince. Lovely and rich.
  • We made a hermit crab retreat back into his shell by casting shadows over his rock pool.

→ Some of my photos from around the cottage and the village

Our weekend in London in numbers

  • 20 – cost, in pounds of our return train fare (each)
  • 15.1 – miles walked (above the surface)
  • 16 – painkillers popped by John (who hurt his back on the way to the train station in Leeds)
  • 7 – cost, in pounds, of a sundae in the Haagen Das restaurant (worth it)
  • 5 – drinks drunk at The Chandos pub
  • 4 – doughnuts eaten (between us)
  • 24 – amount of doughnuts bought by the woman behind us in the queue, stocking up for her six hour journey to Devon (she is our new hero)
  • 2 – meals eaten in Chinatown
  • 5 – amount of times (out of 11) that Big Ben rang while we were standing DIRECTLY underneath it before we actually realised it was ringing
  • 3 – scarves bought: one pink/blue, one turquoise and one green/orange
  • 7 – cost, in pounds, of a small bottle of beer and half-a-coke at the Hippodrome bar while watching La Cirque
  • 10 – inches, the diameter of the tennis racket that Captain Frodo of La Clique squeezed himself through
  • 1 – number of joints he had to dislocate to be able to do that
  • 0 – the amount of laughs the ‘Viva Croydon’ song in La Cirque elicited from us
  • 32.50 – cost, in pounds, of stalls tickets for Spamalot from the tkts booth in Leicester Square
  • 2 – the amount of people who pushed in front of me in the drinks buying queue at the Spamalot interval
  • 2 – museums visited
  • 3.50 – cost, in pounds, of our British Museum guide book
  • 2 – time, in minutes, spent looking at British Museum guide book
  • 10 – tube stations visited
  • 2 – maximum time, in rounded-up minutes, that we had to wait for any tube train (probably more like 90seconds)
  • 6 – number of times I jokingly complained about the waiting times on British public transport when arriving on a platform exactly as a train arrived
  • 3 – amusing overheards*
  • 1 – potential punfolio submissions about ghee

* #1 – “Did you tell her about the death? Oh good.”
#2 – “If we all thought like that, we’d all live in poverty.”
#3 – something in Spanish which we didn’t understand but accompanied by a spanking motion


Berlin - from the map in the main meeting room of the former Stasi HQI went to Berlin with Team Brightbox last week (1st-5th September) and as much as KLM conspired to make it otherwise, I had a great time.

It took almost 24 hours to get there with the quote-unquote “Reliable Airline” because the flight between Leeds-Bradford and Amsterdam was delayed, causing us to miss the last connecting flight onto Berlin. Cue four tired, sweaty hysterical people trying to maximise our return at a “participating bar and restaurant” at the airport after being given “we’re sorry we messed up” vouchers worth 10euros a piece (we scored two glasses of champagne, a “luxury” mojito, a cola beverage and two giant slices of chocolate truffle cake). We then had an indescribable meal at the airport hotel and about three hours sleep before catching our onward flight to Paris at dawn the next morning.

Paris? Yes, because all the Amsterdam-Berlin flights were booked up so we had to go via Paris. And we found out when we finally reached Berlin that my suitcase liked it in France so much, they decided to stay there for an extra day. Sigh.
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Sunset in Sunny Southport

We took a trip to Southport today for a day out and to see my mum’n’dad – and we got a lovely day for it for a change – sunny, crisp and clear.

We bought some books (including a cool photo one on human dissection), wandered around the town for a bit and ate some fresh donuts before strolling off down the pier in time for sunset – well, coincidentally being on the pier at sunset anyway. For once the sea looked to have been in to almost the sea wall in recent times so the dying sunlight reflected quite beautifully off the sand and I took some photos. I used the “Sundown” setting on my camera sometimes (the redder pictures) and the standard setting the rest of the time (the ones with the blue sky). I’m quite impressed by how my little camera managed it – as usual, all I’ve done to the photos is scale them – haven’t changed any colour levels or anything.

After all that perambulation of the pier, we went to the Guesthouse pub for John to try a Southport Brewery beer but they didn’t have any on so he had to have something from Blackburn or somewhere instead (he said it was still good). After that, we went home so Mum could make us some home-made chips (actually from potatoes and fried! such a novelty these days!) and we all watched some godawful thing that passed for Saturday night prime time TV.

Then John and I had a heated discussion about the welfare state, the role of government and the two-party political system in the car on the way home.

It was a good day.

(Manhattaners, aka Andrew: I took a picture of the majestic building and of the foyer through the letterbox – see the small Manhattans subset. I so wished I’d thought ahead and seen if I could have arranged to go inside… next time maybe. I also took a picture of the Back Bath Street roadside because we were passing and it felt it needed remembering since we forgot about the skipping at Christmas. Next time maybe for that too.)