Category Archives: travel

Weihnachten 2008 in Deutschland

This year for Christmas I went over to Germany to see some family I haven’t seen for 11 years. I really should learn some more German, so that I can speak with my grandmother, rather than needing my cousin, to translate for me. She learnt more English than I learnt German, though she needs to learn it for her university course.

While I was there I got the village Singhofen mapped, all on foot, and often freezing temperatures. At least it was dry, and I had my big duvet jacket, so didn’t notice the cold as much. There are plenty of quiet roads that lead off to the neighbouring villages, and some of the finer details that still need to be completed. Hopefully next time I go, I’ll have a bike, which will make it rather a lot faster to do the surveying.

Some people think that Germany is complete, in fact most of the small towns and villages have been forgotten about. Many of them are missing any roads going to them. The Germans are organised enough to have a list of places that need mapping, with an accompanied slippy map.

To get there I used the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Brussels, there I changed to Thalys to Köln, where my cousin and her boyfriend picked me up. While I was in Brussels, I had an hour to kill so went out for a quick walk and found some unnamed streets. I also found this cart that had fallen on the  tracks in the station:


I have a 44MB NMEA (27MB GPX) track @ 5Hz of my journey back, with the exception of when I was on the DeutcheBahn train from Koblenz to Köln, which seems to be like the UK’s Virgin trains in their expertise in blocking GPS signals.

One interesting thing I found outside Köln train station was that there was a lot of bicycles standing there with a lock between the back wheel and the frame, and not locked to anything fixed to the ground.


Happy new year to all.

Day Trip to Calais

On Saturday I took a random day trip to Calais on the train and ferry. It’s been eleven years since I last travelled on the Dover to Calais ferries. This time I was on foot instead of being in a car.

I learnt quite a few things that I should do differently the next time.

  • Don’t get lost in Dover by taking a wrong turn
  • Take the bike
  • There is a 45 minute check-in for foot passengers, while only 30 minutes for car vehicles
  • Aim for an earlier return ferry, so that I don’t have to take the 2304 from Dover to Faversham to change at 23:42 to arrive in London Victoria at 01:29, and then have to take a night bus home. (The stop before London Victoria on the last train is Dartford).
I did have a nice wander around Calais, and you will be able to see the trail of destruction next week when the data is rendered on the main map. So far it seems that someone has traced the railways from landsat, which isn’t particularly accurate.
P1060329.JPG The Dover Docks. (I’m sure that OpenStreetMap can do better than the commercial mapping agencies, however it isn’t going to be easy, as I doubt the port authority nor the border controls will allow you to wander round the port.)
P1060420.JPGP1060419.JPGP1060354.JPGP1060410.JPG Got 2 stations added.

Last of the London Mapping Marathon Tomorrow

Tomorrow, will be the final installment of the Summer 2008 London Mapping Marathon. We will be moving to the Fortnightly Winter 2008-9 Random Pub Meetup. Each week will be a different pub in a potentially unmapped area, for those hard core mappers out there. I’m looking for suggestions on where we could go. On the 24th December we will be going to that thingy pub at latitude 90, longitude -0.12345.

Matt Amos has started organising a mapping party in the Wembly area of London on Sunday 12th October 2008. Hopefully we will have a few weekend mapping parties, in the more outlying parts of London, over the course of the winter.

Later in October I will be going to a mapping party in Kyiv.

Dragheda Mapping Party Review

Last weekend (22-25 August) I went over to Dublin for the Dragheda Mapping Party. I took the train and ferry over, instead of flying, so that I could take my bike. I did get some coding and catching up done on the train and ferry. I found it interesting that Virgin Trains run electric to Crewe, then attach a diesel locomotive on the front to continue into Holyhead. I also found that Virgin Trains now have “enhanced mobile reception” on their trains. I did have to give up trying to use the GPS as Virgins don’t have enhanced gps reception.

I was staying in Dublin and travelling up to Dragheda each day. There has been some considerable progress in the area over the weekend, going from only the main roads mapped to most of the town being mapped by the end of the weekend.


There was some pre-event publicity in a local paper. However the original press release that went out somehow got completely mis-interpreted.

On the Saturday there was a lot of overlap between the mappers, so we got all the traces and photos loaded on to Dermot McNally’s Mac, and done the editing all at once. It prevented people adding the same roads multiple times.

P1050287.JPGOn the Sunday morning I was picked up by Dermot and we done some car mapping on the way to the venue. At one point we had to get out and hold the vegetation back so that we could take a picture of the street sign.

On the way back I hit the start of the 17 day closure of the west coast mainline for rail works, so had to change trains and get lost going from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham Moor Street. I did manage to get a trace all the way back, and map a few streets in Holyhead. Probably should have stayed in Holyhead to do some more mapping and take a later train.

Cycling: North Berwick this time

On Saturday I took a 30 mile cycle out to North Berwick. The tail (westerly) wind did help, and helped my decision on whether to cycle west, north or east.
I took a couple of stops along the way for refreshments. I got into North Berwick about 5pm, just as the sun was setting.
When I got to the train station, the train was due to leave in about 5 minutes time. There was an announcement to say that it was 10 minutes late. Did it appear? Nope. The next one appeared and left on time though. One thing that I noticed is that with the train being electric, it is considerably quieter than the desiel trains that run between Edinburgh-{Glasgow, Bathgate, Fife via Stirling}.

Cycling: Riccarton to Falkirk & 2 punctures in a fortnight

A week past Wednesday, I took a cycle straight from university along the Union canal to Falkirk. It was the furthest West I have cycled along the canal towpath. It was an enjoyable quiet cycle that too just over 4 hours. I needed the exercise.

I even got around to taking a few of pictures on the way. The two photos attached to this post were taken only a few minutes apart, a short distance apart.

I’ve now seen the Falkirk Wheel, for the first time. As it was very dark by then the pictures of it didn’t come out well.

After getting into Falkirk around 8pm, I popped into Tesco for a quick shop, before hopping on the train with my bike home.

The next day I had some horrible slow puncture that got rapidly worse that meant I had to push the bike home. It was a lovely thorn that was stuck in the tyre that caused the puncture. Pushing the thorn out and patching the inner tube seems to have fixed it. The hardest part of the repair was tyre back on to the wheel, but I managed.

Yesterday I managed to get another puncture, this time on the other tyre. It was caused by a bit of glass 8mm long and about 2-4mm wide. It caused so much damage to the inner tube that meant that patching it just didn’t work. So after a couple of failed attempts I stuck in a new inner tube.

Cycling from Sighthill to Linlithgow

Yesterday I took a cycle along the union canal. I set out, without deciding exactly where I would turn back. The sun had already set, so it pretty dark going along most of the canal.
It’s starting to get colder as the puddles on the tow path were starting to freeze in a few places.
By the time I was 6 miles away from Linlithgow, my bike light was become rather dull, with the warning light on. As I wouldn’t have enough light to get all the way back home from there, I decided to take the train from Linlithgow to Edinburgh Park station for £3.30. At Edinburgh Park I was the only one to get off the train. It was only about 5 minutes from there home.
Acording to Google Earth, I cycled about 19 miles in around 2 hours.

2nd Mac Porters Meeting

I made the whirlwind trip to Hamburg for the 2nd Mac Porters Meeting at the Google offices there. I seem to have survived my first flying trip (in both senses). It was great to meet the porters in person again or for the first time.

I really liked the Eurostar on my Lyon trip, far smoother in parts, though longer. You can also move around a lot more on the Eurostar and have no seat belts too. Now all we need is for a high speed rail link between Edinburgh and London that make the Eurostar even better.

It was great being able to play with a Mac Pro! Even without ccache installed, a build of takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. This is dramatically less than the current build times that I’m getting on my MacBook, of around 8 hours. Now I really want one, but simply cannot afford it. 🙁

It is also quite nice to have a shot of working with 2 monitors with my MacBook. It is a lot better to be able to work with different part of a project on different screens. For example, the source code on one and the result on the other screen. However I’m trying to put off getting a monitor until I have a job or can afford it.

With the help of Oliver Braun, I managed to get the link to the Applications folder inside the disk image working properly. I was very close to getting the line of make file in the correct place. We’re looking at possibly increasing the size of the background image to make it look a bit better. Follow issue 72008 to track the integration and testing of my patches.

Minutes of the events on Saturday are available on Eric Bachard’s blog. Sunday’s events should be coming soon. EDIT: The events from Sunday are available.

I have to thank Martin Kretzschmar for his sofa, otherwise I would never have gone.

EHIC scams

It would appear that there are a few people who are running some scams to try and make money out of people trying to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Please be aware that this card is free to apply for.

To apply for the card you should go to the official site at which has the option of doing an online application. It also gives you the correct information.

Examples of some scam sites are:

  • Charge you £15 to put the information into their database, and then they just transfer the information into the Department of Health’s department of Health’s database by entering the information into the form for you. Errm wait a minute you just filled in a form and paid £15 for someone to enter the information that you entered into another form.
  • Give you a 090 number which costs £1.50/minute instead of a national rate number that the department of Health setup specifically for the EHIC. The call just gets routed through to the national rate number that you call.
  • Give false and inaccurate information about the EHIC.

Before anyone asks, I haven’t been caught out by any of these scam, though have noticed them. The department of Health already knew about them and is in the process of taking action against the site owners.

Photos from my trip to France ( conference and Apple Expo)

Please take a look at which contains all the photos from my trip.

I know some of them have not been rotated.

It was the first time I can remember being in London. Over a decade ago I had been round the M25 on the way to Dover, it was so long ago, I can’t remember, mind you I would probably have been sleeping at time.

There are some pictures of the trams and trolley buses in Lyon in there, if anyone is interested.

I found it quite good at being able to catch the sunset whilst on the Eurostar on leaving France.