or “What I did on my holidays, by Nicholas Avenell aged 29 and a bit

One of the interesting things about London is that it has a kind of black hole effect. Most of the time, things come to you instead of you having to actually leave London, and I realised this week that – save for LARP excursions – I haven’t actually left the city boundaries since Christmas. Part of this is that I don’t find London the least bit boring, but when I was invited to D and Sarah’s housewarming in Glasgow, I decided to stretch my horizons a bit and go from a flat city to a more hilly one.

I’ve taken three plane trips in my adult life. To and from Amsterdam, and a Newcastle -> London plane one christmas when I was bored of trains. For this reason, I took the train this time. The price worked out almost exactly the same, but the amount of faff around getting in to and though an airport disuades me, even when I don’t factor in volcano ash or my environmental footprint. Besides, on modern trains I could sit, code and spod on the Internet, which is close to what I’d be doing at home anyway.

Yeah, not so much. Internet was terminally flakey, and my netbook’s screen was rendered unreadable by the position of the sun. On the way to the station I popped into an art shop, and replaced my much-missed japanese brush pen, and so I ended up spending the journey mostly relearning how to draw using it, being bored at Twitter, watching the scenery tick by both from the window and on my phone’s GPS + Google Maps. Even when the sun wasn’t stopping me, it turns out that the new version of PHP (which my laptop now runs) doesn’t like my favoured database abstraction library, which was last updated in 2007. I may end up having to rewrite Plank’s database stack to either use a different abstraction library (I dislike most of the others), or take over this one. Neither prospect appeals to me, and appealed even less on a train at 10am on a saturday.

However, going up by train give me a chance to watch the countrycide. Great sweeping vistas of fields and drystone walling, like someone was shooting a live action version of Postman Pat; The flat horizon of the north sea, suicidal kayakers bouncing off the coastline; the great cathedral in Durham. Shiny things.

Glasgow was quite shiny too. I hit the city with just enough time to make a pillgramage of a kind to Demijohn to buy a housewarming gift. London’s kind of skewed my idea of “a big city” and so I decided to walk it. Glasgow has several things London does not. It has, noticably, more people with red hair, slightly fewer kebab shops per square mile, and also hills.

London is mostly pretty flat. Glasgow isn’t. After a while of walking up and down hills in straight lines, I took a radical step. Cannot, apparently, go over the hills. Don’t have time to go though the hills. Have to go though them. Fortunatly, I was assisted in this regard by the fact that Glasgow has a toy underground system. It’s like the tube, but everything is built to around 6/8ths scale. So cute!

Later I was informed that this was mostly because London digs the tunnels out of mud. Scotland, being brewed from SOLID ROCK and girders, is harder to dig tunnels in. This is fair enough, but still, diddy toy trains! Also, apparently they used to be pulled around by giant cables powered by even more giant steam engines, which is significantly more interesting.

Then there was a party, which contained beer and wine and Guitar Hero and lovely people, some of whom I even remember the names of, and finally there was sleep and an EPIC journey home.