Archive for the ‘Events’ category

Geek Steam BBQ 2012

August 19th, 2012

For the last three years I have been organising a BBQ at the North London Society of Model Engineers track at Colney Heath (not far from the M25 / A1(M) junction). Basically we have a BBQ and ride on real model steam trains, and you are invited as well. Just bring some meat to cook and enjoy the day.

Last year we shared the day with a visiting club from Chelmsford running the trains and I believe they will be back again. We will also have an electric train you can drive and a few chances to learn how to drive a real steam train on the ground level track.

There are more information on my web site if you want to know more. Please come along and enjoy yourself.

Fancy a laugh…

June 25th, 2012

…at my expense? Well this is your opportunity on Wednesday evening.

I am going to have a go at “geek” stand up comedy at Bright Club Newcastle. Basically I going to talk about one of my projects highlighting the amusing parts and hope people giggle a little. By popular request I will be talking about my Metro system simulator.

If I am rubbish it is still worth coming as it is compared by the lovely Helen Keen and there will be lost of other acts. Having seen some of the rehearsals I can say they will be as good and funny the past events if not more so. So come along. It is £3 on the door but you should get your name on the list now to guarantee your place as it does tend to sell out.

The Late Shows 2012

May 25th, 2012

For the last few years The Late Shows have happened in Newcastle and Gateshead where cultural venues who would normally be closed on a Friday and Saturday night open their doors until 11pm (and sometimes later).

This year I was out with some friends on the Friday for a drink and a visit to the Ouseburn venues. The trouble with going for a drink with friends first is that you tend to get caught up in nattering and not getting to the venues you were planning to. Eventually we set off and here is a summary of what we managed to see at in the time we had…

Toffee Factory

We got to see a little singing (well okay, about 20 seconds) and then took a tore to look at the rooms available (clearly being run by estate agents and not cultural folk this one ;-) ) and finishing up at the roof garden. No residents seemed to be exhibiting anything but it is there first year open so hopefully we will see exciting things next time.

Wychcraft Furniture Co

Not an official stop but it is nice to see a local woodworker showing their wares. It was also great fun having a go at balancing fire on my chin. Apparently there was more of this fire juggling fun and the like on the Saturday but sadly I did not get across there this year.

Seven Stories

A venue that got its name from having 7 floors, and it is also important to remember that the exit is on floor 3, or somewhere like that. Anyway, this children’s story telling venue had lots of costumes of charters from books resulting in lots of [so called] adults putting on costumes and regressing to their childhood. There were plenty of dressing up opportunities this year but this was by far the best. If they ever need volunteers to dress up for the kids then a few hundred of them can be found at the Late Shows.

36 Lime Street

Only a brief visit here as we were running out of time and a friend of ours got involved in a political debate about politics that swallowed the rest of the time we had.

On the Saturday I decided to have another look at some venues, but this time by not going to the pub beforehand. I hoped to see more and on my bicycle that I did…

Mushroom Works

This was one of my favourite stops last year with a great elephant show and Sarah Blood’s neon baked in Cake . Although there was not all that much new to see this year there were a few good things to look at. I also caught up with fellow maker Bettina Nissen who has some marvellous 3D printed creations.

Onethirty3, Hoults Yard

Some basic and slightly fun prints being exhibited. The works were okay but the way they were being hung in the space really added to them.

Unit 44, Hoults Yard

Some of my favourite art works of the weekend. I especially enjoyed the “smiley” designs. Taking time to look at these made my trip the Hoults worthwhile.

Unit 44 – While Walls, Hoults Yard

Well, not quite my thing, but each to their own and all that.

Newcastle Cycle Hub

Ironically I had trouble finding somewhere to put by bicycle here where I could see it. It appears to be a cycle shop, cycle hire and café in one although I might have got that wrong. I will have to stop off another day and find out more.

Side Gallery

This is always worth a look. Some great thought provoking photography on show here. It is always a good selection and in many ways I with a lot of what is shown here was more accessible to the world. It is free to visit any time so if you are around then go.

Castle Keep

Somewhere I have been many times and I love to go to the roof for the view. The view changes every time I visit, but there do tend to be a few years in between each visit. My oldest memory of the castle as a child is of the view of all the train tracks and points going in to the station, but from what I can figure most of those are now the long stay car park. There was also a play that was nice and slightly odd diversion, and some interesting models of old buildings in Newcastle.


I was not going to stop here as my intention to go one day in the week, but I was passing and although pre-booking was normally needed there was a spare space belonging someone who did not turn up. Something that defiantly gets my mad invention seal of approval. It is a shame it is not a more permanent installation.

Holy Jesus Hospital, National Trust

Somewhere I have passed many times and wondered what is inside. A great introduction and brief history of the building at the start. There were also a few fun things going on like dressing up (yet again) making stained glass windows like at school, a cycling simulator (no idea why but who cares). They were even giving away free soup that gets my thumbs up ever time.

So that is what I did, and there was so much I did not get to do. Some say that this should happen more times a year, and although I don’t disagree perhaps it would be more practical to have different sectors of the cities open on different weekends, or add a Thursday as well. Well dome all and fingers crossed for next year.

I can give up BarCamps any time I want to…

February 12th, 2012

…I just don’t want to yet. I have blogged before about the BarCamps I have attended, and then again about a few more, and now I need to bring the list up to date. So here is the list…

  • BarCampBlackpool2, 3rd June 2010, Geek event wifi
  • BarCampBrighton5, 2nd – 3rd September 2010, What apps should I install on my new phone?
  • BathCamp2010, 30th – 31st October 2010, Flash Talks + Duck365 replay
  • BarCampLondon8, 13th – 14th November 2010, HTTP: What it is and how it works
  • BarCampBournemouth3, 26th – 27th Feburary 2011, Can we do Backstage without the BBC?
  • BarCampSheffield2011, 16th / 17th Apr 2011, The low level details of QR Codes
  • BarCampNottingham, 23rd – 24th July 2011, Playing with GPS, DRM, and a World Service TX
  • BarCampNorthEast4, 13th – 14th August 2011, Organiser + PowerPoint Karaoke presentation
  • BarCampBrighton6, 10th – 11th September 2011, Building
  • BarCampMediaCityUK, 17th – 18th September 2011, Be Happy
  • BarCampBlackpool3, 15th October 2011, Let’s make a pop video
  • BarCampLondon9, 29th – 30th October 2011, I am on a startup accelerator

There is the list, taking me to a grand total 41 BarCamps attended over 5 years.

I also hold a rather unusual record still, that being I am the only person who has attended all the overnight UK BarCamps. It is not a record I have gone out my way to keep, and sadly that is a record about to come to am end. BarCampBournemouth4 is scheduled for the 1st weekend in March when I will be assisting with the ThinkVis conference in Leeds. It had to end at some point and I am surprised it has taken 5 years, but end it must.

So here is to BarCamps in 2012! I hoping there will be lots of new and smaller ones as I am enjoying these a lot more than the larger ones. If you want to organise one near you then feel free to ask for help and encouragement. It is easer than you might think and unless we have new people put there hands up and say we want to do that then the movement is in danger of fizzling out in time.

Do you fancy riding on steam trains or a BBQ this weekend?

August 24th, 2011

For the last couple of years we have had the Geek Steam BBQ on the August bank holiday weekend just north of the M25 (in Colney Heath). What we do is run some trains (both steam and electric) round the track and have a BBQ. This year we are doing it again just because we can and it is fun. As an added bonus there is a visiting model engineering club bringing some more steam engines so there will be more chances to ride and more interesting people to chat with.

If you can make it along then you are welcome to join us. Don’t worry if you are not interested in the trains, it is just a chance to socialise. Just let me know you are coming and bring a selection of food to share. There are more details on the micro-site.