zz Sabbatical Report 6

Nan and Walt's 1999 - 2000 Sabbatical
Report #6, November 22, 1999
Part I

On October 15, we began our stay in Bristol (map) which is a much bigger city than Canterbury with a very different feel. There is even a real American style shopping mall. But it is like being a native of upstate NY (read that from the Watertown area), i.e., where, when someone says they are going to The Mall, there's no question as to which one.

       

Our house in Bristol is quite nice and quite large: two bedrooms, two baths and a study. It is nicely furnished and decorated. The house is pictured above. The flowers in the photo on the right belong to the neighbors who have the other half of the building we are in. The cats, Johnson and Jess, belong to yet another neighbor, but they have enough affection to give to all.

It is more expensive to live here than in Canterbury: Our rent is twice as much; we must pay utilities; and there is no data point in the house. To top that off, our modems didn't work! We'd discovered the modem problem in Canterbury, but thought it might just be the university phone system.

I'd bought a phone adapter/connector from a travel catalog in the States to convert the RJ11 modem connector to the British phone jack. As there were too many possible points of failure, my first thought was to see if I could buy a different phone adapter/connector to see if that was the problem. Walt talked me out of even trying that three pound solution.

I started checking out our modems on the web and found that 3COM claimed that the modem that Walt had was only guaranteed to work in the U.S. and in Canada, and they had another, more expensive, "global" modem that would work in all of the countries we planned to visit. As Alan Chalmers (our host) was heading to the States for a conference, we had him bring one back for us. Three wasted days later, Walt's laptop wouldn't even boot and we'd spent several dollars on phone calls to U.S. Tech Support at 3Com. Everyone finally concluded that this 3Com modem was not compatible with the Digital HiNote laptop. (Not the first time we've had problems with incompatibility with this machine.)

Now we had two choices: we could try to use the new modem with my Libretto or we could try the three pound Tandy adapter/connector. Guess which one I decided to try - yes, the Tandy adapter/connector. Guess what - it worked! Three weeks and lot's of hair pulling later, and now the three pound part did it! :-) Walt later checked the wiring on the two adapters/connectors and found that indeed the one I'd bought in the States was wired incorrectly! :-(

One of the most famous landmarks in Bristol is the Clifton suspension bridge across the Avon River.

       

There is a toll for cars to drive across it, but it's free to pedestrians. It's an easy walk from our house, near the Downs.

       

On our side of the bridge is the Clifton camera obscura which sits above the entrance to a cave in the cliff which served as a chapel in a previous era. Both photos show the building housing the camera obscura and, if you look carefully at the one on the left, you can see a railing below and to the left of it down the cliff; this is the alternative entrance to the cave.

       

The view from the Downs is spectacular as the Avon Gorge is quite deep. The Avon is tidal and this area boasts of the second highest tides in the world (under the bridge 37 feet, in the estuary 49 feet), but no one here seems to know where the largest is. (I've since had some e-mail saying that the Bay of Fundy has the world's greatest tides reaching as much as 55 feet.)

As I said, the bridge is a landmark, even at night!

       

Bristol started it's life as a seaport. The tides were handled by providing a floating dock for shipping. This was originally in the Avon itself, but today is in the city center. I find the houses in the right photo particularly colorful. A majority of the houses here are stone or brick.

       

Like any port (or ex-port), Bristol has a Maritime Museum that Walt likes to visit. The sailing ship pictured above is a replica of Cabot's boat, the Matthew.

Here we see the S.S. Great Britain which is currently undergoing restoration. Also in this area is one of several Bristol Blue Glass factories. The blue glass that Bristol is famous for became fashionable because clear glass was taxed!

       

Bristol city center is a mixture of old and new and quite interesting. On the left above, if you look closely, you can see one of the remaining city gates. Behind it on the hill is the university. The doorway on the right is just one example of architectural tidbits of the area...

       

as is the photo on the left. The building on the right is a former alms house.

       

Another Bristol landmark is the Bristol Cathedral. It is difficult to photograph, so what we see here is a gate to an abbey that was previously on the site. The photo on the right is taken in one of the cathedral's chapels.

       

These inside shots show just some of the wonderful curves and arches.

Notice how the cathedral's night stairs, which the monks used to get to the choir for nighttime services, show the wear of time.

       

Halloween was a lovely fall day. We visited Blaise Castle with Rhona and Maya. This is a folly, i.e., not a real castle, just a cool place to escape to in the summer. We understand that Halloween has just recently started to be celebrated in the U.K., at least, as we do in the U.S. Andrew Kitchen says: "We celebrated Halloween when I was young. The difference was that there was no formal celebration, no commercial aspect. The focus was on tricks - tying dustbin (garbage can) lids to door knobs, setting off bangers (firecrackers, not sausages in this case)." This year we had three trick-or-treaters, all teenage boys, none in costume.

       

Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5 with huge bonfires and fireworks. This celebration was held on the Downs, near our house.

Go on to Part II

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Nan C. Schaller
Rochester Institute of Technology
Computer Science Department
102 Lomb Memorial Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623-5608
telephone: +1.585.475.2139
fax: +1.585.475.7100
e-mail: ncs@cs.rit.edu

25 November 1999