Category: Work (page 1 of 4)

Washington DC

At the start of December I was lucky enough to have a short trip out to Washington DC thanks to my companies annual awards scheme. A project I was working on was up for an award and hence our group, well half of it, was flown out to Washington DC to compete and celebrate with teams from around the globe. We didn’t take the top award but had a great time over the four days.

Day 1
An eight hour flight out to Washington was made easier as we were on premium economy (more legroom FTW) and it was an Airbus A380. It really is massive when you get up close to the plane and on take off seemed to trundle slowly along the runway before finally taking off. There is so much room on board, particularly headroom, that it made for a really smooth and easy flight. A coach from the airport and we were soon at our hotel in Washington and the biggest check in queue ever.

We were only a mile from The White House, Washington Monument etc so headed off on foot to take in the sights at night. It was colder than I expected and after a few hours a combination of tiredness, the cold and lack of food was taking effect. We eventually grabbed a pizza but not before seeing a lot of Washington. By the time I got to bed I’d been on the go for around 30 hours without sleep. Zzzzzzzzzzz.


Washington Day 1 on Flickr

Day 2
Out early and it was a gorgeous winters day in Washington. Plan was to visit a few museums and see the sights in daylight. We had around 8 hours as at night was the Awards ceremony. Managed to visit the Air and Space Museum, The Natural History Museum, The American History Museum plus a trip up the Washington Monument. All these are located around the National Mall and it was a great day. We also squeezed in a trip to Five Guys for a tasty burger.

Our awards ceremony was held in the National Portrait Gallery and it was a fantastic venue. A black tie event, we first had the longest 2 mile coach trip through rush hour traffic that took at least an hour – we really would have been quicker walking and given the number of us wearing kilts it would have been quite a sight. The whole night was fantastic with the only slight disappointment that we didn’t win being tempered by another group from Glasgow taking home a gold award. I was really pleased for them as I know a few of the team well and how much effort they’ve put in plus the impact their work has delivered. Another late night!


Washington Day 2 on Flickr

Day 3
Final day for most but not for me as I’d decided to stay an extra day to take in more of Washington. First half was really good – took in the US Capitol building including a tour, Chinatown, Union Station and then a mad dash back to the hotel marked half way point. Spotted a hawk as we walked around the city too casually tucking into some food.

One of the guys who stayed in Washington had an Airbnb in Arlington and as we wanted to see Arlington Cemetery we shared a taxi to his rental. The taxi was bizarre as the driver moaned about not knowing the street we wanted to go to, moaned about Arlington, moaned as he had to phone someone to find out the location, moaned that after the call he still didn’t know her he was going…basically moaned about everything. Even when I looked up location on Google and we guided him there he still moaned. A taxi driver with no sat nav and no map. What a cock. We then took the metro to Arlington Cemetery and arrived just as it closed – our first planning failure. We then decided to walk to the Pentagon down a cycle path next to the Potomac River and a major freeway. This wasn’t the best decision with hindsight as we got nowhere and ended up taking a very long walk to the Jefferson Memorial which was a nice reward as it was stunning at night. A trip to the White House again and then to a nice restaurant in Georgetown finished off the day.


Washington Day 3 on Flickr

Day 4
Final day and I wanted to do some shopping and also see the Space Shuttle over at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre. For shopping it was a quick hop on the metro to Pentagon City mall – it stops in the basement of the mall making for a really easy shopping trip. Amazingly I bought no gadgets, just some clothes at around half the UK price. It was a two hour trip out to the Udvar-Hazy Center which was close to the airport anyway. This was a lot better than the city centre air and space museum and had some great displays, topped by Discovery.

I was smiling like a fool when I saw Discovery. For many it will be Apollo or for the current generation it’s probably the Mars Landers but for me the Space Shuttle is what I fondly remember from school, watching the first launch and seeing it soar into space time and again and then the two disasters which took so many lives. There was lots to see at the Udvar-Hazy center and I enjoyed it far more than the Air and Space museum in the city centre which looked a bit tired. It was then back to the airport, a club class flight back to Heathrow and then finally a hop back to Glasgow and some pretty major jet lag.

Washington Day 4 on Flickr

Wrap Up
Washington is well worth a visit. Stay around Georgetown as there’s a great selection of shops and restaurants to suit all tastes and you are not too far from the metro which is a really easy way to get around. The museums are all good although a couple were showing their age. There’s lots to do and a lot of ground to cover so use the metro or one of the hop on/hop off tourist busses. The alternative is to walk a fair bit (which we did through choice) but you will quickly rack up the miles.

50 miles covered over four days

50 miles covered over four days

Our tours around the city meant over 50 miles were walked and blisters were gained but we did see a lot more than we would have done on a bus or especially the metro. I loved the four days and was really pleased to pack so much in, especially seeing the Space Shuttle. Achievement unlocked.

Going, Going, Gone

Govan Shipyard is going through some major changes, one of which is the demolition of the cranes which have dominated the Clyde landscape for years.

Back in January there were four cranes still standing.

Roll forward to the start of March and there was just one left.

And today…all gone.

The cranes aren’t that old having been built in 1974 but were deemed not fit for purpose going forward and hence scrapped. While one of the cab’s has been passed to the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine and parts of the cranes will be displayed at Fairfield Heritage Centre at Govan it’s a shame that these landmarks will no longer be seen or heard. The Times They Are a-Changin’.

Togaf

I’ve spent the last week in London on a TOGAF training course. It was an enjoyable course and marks a bit of a change in career direction which I’m looking forward to. Before that though, some thoughts on the course.

The four day course took place in central London, in fact a stones throw from Buckingham Palace in the wonderfully named Stag Place. The venue itself was on the 27th floor which offered fantastic views over London.

Early Morning London

The hotel I stayed in was a wee bit way from the venue, right on Shaftsbury Avenue. If you’ve not been to London before you won’t know the location but it’s right on the edge of Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden. This meant for great restaurants every night but my room was over looking the street and it just never got quiet. On the first night I hardly got any sleep and picked up some ear plugs so the next three nights were bearable. The room was also quiet small, with a tiny sink in the on suite. The worse thing is that four nights stay cost over £800. Shocking but I guess that’s London rates for you. It was clean and centrally placed – that’s about the best I could say as long as you take some ear plugs!

I have to mention each of the restaurants we visited. All very different and all extremely delicious and all found via Yelp on the iPhone.

The first restaurant was Punjab in Covent Garden. Despite the waiter spilling my beer over the table the meal was excellent and a good start to the week. Just look at that starter above – mmm – lovely.

The second night was at Patara – a great Thai restaurant. The mains were great but again my starter was a real highlight (picture above). Third night was at La Perla – a mexican pub/restaurant that did messy but tasty food with massive portions.

By Thursday I was stuffed what with the big meals at night and the great lunches on the course. We went into Taro which was a busy Japanese restaurant. I swore I wasn’t going to eat much but I did – just look at the sushi – fantastic! My weight will undoubtedly pay for this. It’s a shame that the view and food was let down by the heat in the room. Warm first thing, by lunchtime it was getting too hot but it just couldn’t be cooled. By mid afternoon, especially after no sleep, it was hard to stay awake. Dry subject, little sleep and a really warm room.

One nice part of the week was the distance between hotel and course. Far enough away that the walk was meaningful but not far enough away to force us onto the underground. That was only used on arrival and it was a pain due to closure of circle line – our train was swamped with people and it was so damn hot. While walking around I was surprised by how many Boris Bikes were in use. Looks like a popular scheme and one thats easy to use.

As for the course itself, it was good but TOGAF is a fairly dry subject – have I said that already? The best parts of the course were the group exercises although our team was helped by having a powerpoint and sales guru on the team – not my area of expertise! Our team even one the prize – a pen each. Easily pleased.

All thats left to do now is to do the exam in the next few weeks and I should then be TOGAF certified. Eh? Enterprise architecture is the path I’m starting to follow which will be heavily influenced by TOGAF. A long way to go and much work to do but I look to have a pretty interesting couple of years ahead of me. There’s a lot to sort!

HMS Dragon

HMS Dragon Type 45 Destroyer Launch (2008)

Finished work at 11 today due to HMS Dragon launching. Found this video on YouTube from one of the guys I work with. Fast work Matt!

Tin Cup

We had another trip down to Roodlea on Friday for a round of golf and some eats afterwards. It was another really good day and despite my handicap being cut I managed to win. Again. Oops. Now the handicap will be well and truly butchered but to be honest it’s about time someone else had a chance of winning.

Managed to snap a couple of videos while I was there, one of them pretty funny too. Sorry Tom.


Golf Lessons – The Chip Shot from Ian D on Vimeo.

Other videos can be seen on Vimeo in HD or at Flickr here, here and here as well as the full photo set on Flickr.

We’re hopefully making another trip down in August. The course we visit is Roodlea Family Golf Centre and it’s perfect for us. It’s 18 par three holes which makes it manageable for those of us (me me me) who don’t play golf. Highly recomended.

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