Photos from Paris

I am in Paris this week presenting some of my PhD research at the International Conference on Image Processing. Here are a few pictures from the week so far (edit: now updated with more photos).

Off to Paris

Just a short post this week as final preparations are coming together for my trip to Paris next week. As I mentioned a few months ago, some of my work got accepted into the International Conference on Image Processing taking place next week in Paris, and now you can see my name in the program listing:

My paper in the ICIP 2014 technical program. I can tell you’re excited.

I’ll take lots of pictures for you all, and I’m taking my GoPro just in case :P

Speaking of GoPro, here’s the full timelapse for the Garden Soc Polytunnel building…

Can’t promise a post next week, but you never know,

Charles x

Climbing & Building a Polytunnel

As promised last week, I’ve got some videos taken with my new GoPro for you to pass through your cornea.

The first delight I have in store for you is footage taken at Craggy Island in Guildford – a large, indoor climbing centre with top rope and lead climbing walls. Since I’m new to the whole lead climbing malarkey, this video doesn’t exactly show the most extreme routes in the world, but for people who have never been climbing and want to see what it’s like, it’s a great insight into the whole thing.

I’ve also been testing out the timelapse function of the GoPro – where photos are taken at regular intervals and then stuck together to make a super-fast-forwarded video. I always thought timelapses of construction work looked super cool, so I timelapsed Garden Soc‘s 35ft polytunnel construction at the weekend.

The weekend started with a major setback when we discovered the builders had concreted the ground tubes in the wrong place, despite being given the polytunnel instructions and being explicitly told not to use concrete. We spent the first few hours digging out eight tubes (and their associated concrete blocks) and moving them all one foot to the right. Even still, by the end of the weekend we managed to get the polytunnel frame and sides complete with only the poly on the roof still to do – incredible progress considering the setback, and all thanks to literally dozens of volunteers who helped out despite the rainy conditions.

This weekend we’re going to get the polytunnel finished, as well as build a shed and some raised beds, so you can expect another timelapse very soon :P

Until next week,

Charles x

GO PRO GO PRO GO PRO (and gardening)

For this week’s blog post I was going put together a short video of me and a few friends rock climbing, but due to the immense amount of things happening this week I just haven’t been able to edit the footage yet. Hopefully I get pull something together for next week when I have a bit more free time.

With the birthday money kindly gifted to me by my friends and family I bought a GoPro – a small, light, waterproof video camera.

It’s something I’ve wanted for ages now, and as soon as it arrived I wanted to start recording everything, starting with my rock climbing. With the head mount it’s easy to record someone climbing up a wall from their point of view, and it looks really cool! But the main reason I wanted the GoPro was for travelling. I’ve made a few travel video in the past, and it’s something I want to really push the boat out on for my next adventure!

As I mentioned last week, I’m involved with starting up a new community garden on campus, and over the last week there has been lots going on. We had an amazing response at freshers fayre, with over 200 students signing up to the society mailing list. Our first session was attended by over 30 people, who had lots of great ideas for the garden. It’s so great to have such an overwhelming response after estates and the whole committee worked so hard over the summer to make the freshers week deadline.

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Raking in the fresher’s #branchout

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This weekend we’re building the 35ft polytunnel in the garden, so there’s been lots to organise for that. Did I mention that it’s also my cousins wedding tomorrow?

See you next week when everything has calmed down a notch. If I still had the “brief-o-meter” I’m sure both happiness and workload would be at 11 this week!

Charles x

These Four Walls – National Poetry Day

The first Thursday in October is National Poetry Day, and long time readers of this blog will know that I write poetry every once in a while. This years theme is ‘remember’, so I’ve chosen to share a poem I wrote back when I was 21. This poem is about a guy desperately trying to remember an intimate moment from his past, to stop it from slipping away and disappearing from his conciousness forever; and hoping that somehow, somewhere, she’s doing the same thing.

These Four Walls

These four walls talk less than they once did.
If I’m falling through a dream, into the real world;
can I follow a moment, and recreate the scene?

The intangible twilight and unspeakable senses,
a flawless hand could touch, but what?
A choice too boundless to imagine.
To hug the shore of unbroken law,
and beat the seams of every undreamt dream.

Flows of comes and goes, and the night of never-ending.
Then face the truth? And never see you again?
Since the change in pace, my heart has beat in one place.
The place you were, and left tired since.
See goodbye, but fake a new hello.
Why over remains? When everything else will go?

Without this flow of running lust,
and time ever after heartbeats forgot.
Custom a reason, or facet a plan,
I’m making my statement, to do what I can.
Come with me or reprieve, take a chance or make me leave.
I can’t watch your back again, when faces beautiful seldom fly from dreams into these four walls.

One final touch, won’t satisfy my lust.
Take a please, and find a place for me.
I won’t bother the dreams, just tuck into your head,
make a bed and sleep in your conscience.
Just to know I’m there will be enough,
to return to these four walls again.

What’s Growing On?

Wow, where to start… Since finishing my duties as president of the Postgraduate Society last year, I’ve taken on an entirely different challenge: Garden Society.

Garden Society
Garden Society

I first heard about Garden Soc in May last year while reading the student newspaper. There was an article about a new garden being built on campus specifically designed for students to grow their own fruit and vegetables. Having been at uni for 6 years, and regularly attended the weekly fruit and veg stall that pops up in the Students Union, I had a passing interest in growing my own food. At the time I was also living in a flat with no garden, so the thought of having somewhere I could go and escape was very appealing. I guess also with my recent vegan binge I’ve come to question a lot more where my food comes from, and getting involved in running a community garden seemed like the ideal opportunity.

I fired off an email, well a Facebook message (such is the way with modern communication), to find out how I could get involved. I was invited to the community group on Facebook where 20 or so students were already talking about the prospect of having a little green patch of their own. While following the progress of the garden I started growing my own sunflowers.

Office sunflowers
Office sunflowers

The garden was awarded a grant from the University Annual Fund, which is a pool of money donated by Surrey Alumni to “support worthy projects across the University community”. The money was a huge boost for the garden, which could now afford to turn the plot of land they’d been allocated into an actual garden (kind of important).

the land
The plot, 450m2 of slopy ground. Picture courtesy of Victoria Johnsen, Surrey’s Environmental & Cultural Change Manager

Following the exciting Annual Fund news, a new society was ratified by the Student’s Union to put students in charge of the garden. The first job of a newly ratified society is to hold an Annual General Meeting, or AGM, to elect a committee who can run the society. I was excited to go along to the AGM and finally meet this enthusiastic group of students who wanted to see this garden become a reality as much as me.

When I got to the meeting it became immediately apparent that I might run for a committee position. I don’t know if it’s some kind of illness I have that I must be on the committee of at least one society every year, or if I was so keen to see this project happen that I was happy to play as big a part in it as I could. Either way, by a combination of involuntary volunteering and a lack of unwillingness, I found myself giving a speech to become president of the Garden Society. Even after explaining my lack of gardening experience, saying that my favourite vegetable is a tomato (it’s a fruit), and facing strong opposition from nobody, I was unanimously voted in. Thankfully, Emily and Tom make up the other signatory positions, so I’m in very good company.

Garden Layout
Garden layout, with raised beds for disabled access, a huge polytunnel, several large planting beds and a plant-a-bout

From that point on it’s been all go! Over the summer we’ve done a lot in terms of finalising the layout of the garden so builders could get started on landscaping. We’ve been helped massively by Victoria Johnsen and Matthew Arnold from Estates & Facilities who have helped us build links with some great people at the University who can help us make this project a success.

the current state of the garden
The current state of the garden

I’m excited to say that the garden site is almost ready to be planted on! We’ve got interest from the Lakeside Restaurant on campus who are keen to use some of our produce in their seasonal dishes, and we also plan to sell produce to students as a way to make the society self-sustaining in the long-term. The first year of any community garden is always going to be tricky, but we’ve got a lot of support already and hopefully we’ll get a lot of interest from students at Freshers Fayre this Friday. Our first session is being held at the weekend, so after months of waiting it’s finally happening!

We now have a website http://gardensoc.wordpress.com/ with a blog where we will continue to post regular updates on the progress of the garden society. You’ll probably see another update from me here too in due course!

Until next week,

Charles x