It was incredibly sad to learn on Friday evening that Gerard Venes had passed away after being ill for the past few months. I worked directly for Gerard for a number of years in Human Resources IT at UBS and have very happy memories of those times. This picture is typical of how I remember him, deep in thought about one of the many issues we encountered on the big project we worked on together.
As well as the intense amount of hard work that we got through over the course of those few years I also remember spending time talking and debating all kinds of things with Gerard and the other guys we worked with, whether religion, gardening (I had just found myself in possession of my first garden and Gerard was an incredibly enthusiastic gardener) or London winning its Olympic bid. He took the conversations very seriously and they were always enjoyable because of it.
I learned a lot from working for Gerard. He really pushed me to be as successful as I could be in my role and always gave me food for thought in terms of my approach to my job. He supported me and took his role as my line manager seriously, spending a lot of time making sure I had an annual review that I could use to better myself, pointing out things that I could improve on and ensuring my achievements were recognised.
In January I dropped a note to Gerard to see how things were going and didn’t think much about the fact that I didn’t get a reply. I hadn’t heard that he had been ill until I received a note from a friend out of the blue on Friday. It’s such a shame that I won’t be able to talk to him again, even more so that he was only 49 and won’t be able to grow old with his wife or see his three children grow up. He was a lovely man who will be missed.
On Monday we said goodbye to my grandad, James Alexander Doran, who passed away aged 91 years. It was lovely to see so many people there. I had the privelige of being asked to read the two speeches that were prepared by my aunty Di (with a little added from me) and uncle Ronnie and thought I would share them here in case anyone would like to read them again:
It was interesting to find out that everyone celebrated grandad’s birthday on 26 January whereas his birth certificate said he was born on 27 January – my Dad had a similar experience with his birthday being celebrated two days after the actual day for quite a few years until someone stumbled across his birth certificate, so this seems to run in the family!
I also took along some photos of my grandad to the funeral and some of my relatives asked where they could get copies so – here they are:
Four generations of Doran:
The Dorans plus a couple of Hibberts:
The Doran boys plus one Hibbert:
Dad and Grandad:
Nan and Grandad:
We’ll miss him lots.
I have just had a cracking couple of days in Cardiff on my brother’s stag weekend along with 24 other like-minded fellows. It has to have been the most organized event of it’s type I’ve ever been on – we had a multi-page PDF before we went complete with full venue addresses (hotel, club, karting etc) and were all given business card-size laminated mini-itineraries when we got there. The best man, Chris, even came up with the idea of a ‘stag phone’ – he had a pay-as-you-go phone in his possession with the phone number on the back of all of our obligatory comedy tops, the idea being that fellow drinkers could text the number with our nickname and get us to have a shot.
I’m still a little worse-for-wear some 48 hours after the event. Good times, but I’m glad we don’t do it too often!
A selection of photos can be found on the web courtesy of a fellow attendee. Stag phone results as compiled by Chris are also available. Next stop, the wedding.
Mat has generously given me some space on his web server to host a copy of the project I completed in the final year of my degree about ten years ago. It’s called An Implementation of Donald Knuth’s MIX and is a Java applet version of a mythical computer that Knuth wrote about in The Art of Computer Programming Vol 1. I’ve added the source code to the page which has never been out in the big wide world before. Hopefully someone will find it interesting!
We recently had a lovely picnic in St Albans with a couple of our good friends who live there. I’ve always loved the town and it’s a great place to visit whether you’re a shopper or a tourist. The central part of the high street is pretty with a beautiful clock tower right in the centre, apparently the only medieval clock tower in the country.
One of our friends mentioned that you can climb the tower and I jumped at the chance. After giving the lovely old ladies 80p for a ticket at the entrance I heard the bell strike for three o’clock. They told me I was lucky I was on the ground floor and it was only after I got up to the belfry that I realised what they meant – the bell is BIG and you get to stand within an arm’s length of it. Being next to it and thinking that it could be struck at any time scared the wits out of me – I had visions of jumping at the sound and tumbling down the spiral staircase back to the entrance – so I legged it up to the rooftop.
The view from the top is fantastic – you get to see the cathedral as well as a lot of the town and surrounding countryside. On top of this, the masonry was covered with grafitti going back to the 1800s which completely fascinated me. I had the same spooky feeling I get when I see a photo of somewhere I know that was taken decades ago and can’t help thinking about the people that have stood in the same place years before. I took some pictures on my Blackberry but the camera is pretty crappy:
If you want to see more, take a look at the set I’ve uploaded to Flickr.
If you visit St Albans, have 30 minutes to spare, are happy to climb an extremely narrow spiral staircase and want to chance your luck with the giant bell, it’s worth a visit!
We recently had the pleasure of Marc, Rachel and Jonah staying with us for a week on a trip over from NYC. They’re even lovelier than we remembered, and it was great to meet Jonah.
Rachel has put up some photos from their trip.
On the train home from work today I looked up from my iPod and did a double-take – right in front of me was a fellow Berkhamsted blogger (if I can still call myself that, given my lack of recent posts) whom I recognised from his numerous Flickr photos. My first thought was to say hello and introduce myself, but I quickly realised how wierd this would be! I really had nothing to talk about other than the fact that we had both uploaded various photos to the Berkhamsted Flickr group and he had made me an admin many months back. It’s a strange feeling, thinking that it isn’t the first time that you have met someone and wanting to say “hi” but actually having nothing more of any real interest to say.
This happened to me before when I spotted the Station Master (of the now defunct Station Master’s Weblog fame) at one of the tube stations that I use on my commute – again, I thought of saying “hi” but had nothing to really talk about other than the fact that I read his blog. Not many avenues of conversation there.
Nobody wants to come across as a stalker!