Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adventures in England

I've just gotten back from the 8th International Horse Genome Workshop, which was held last week in the English countryside north of London. The people that have come to this and previous meetings often call it the Havemeyer Workshop, because it's funded and supported by the horse-friendly Havemeyer Foundation.

The workshop spanned one evening and two full days, and had a really full-on social and scientific program. The workshop venue was Ickworth House, a venue with plenty of history, and one of the ugliest central architectural features I've ever seen: a giant rotunda. This enormous round structure (pictured in the most flattering way possible in the web site link) was apparently requested by a family member who'd travelled to Italy - great inspiration, but the execution left something to be desired! It's questionable charms provided an excellent aesthetic foil to the simple and elegant wings of the house, and the extensive and well-designed gardens on the estate.

The final night of the workshop saw us all living the high life at Newmarket Nights: horse racing followed by a show. The Newmarket main straight is really hilly compared to the Australian race tracks that I've been too, and it's also really long. The horses almost disappear from view in the low parts as they come down the straight, which takes a while, because it's also really long. Anyway, I'm delighted to say that I came out even in the betting, with one win and one... not-so-win. The band that played after the races was Status Quo.

The social side of things at the workshop meant plenty of stories and anecdotes. One of the strangest involved feeding vegemite to possums, something that I must say I've never tried personally. I'm not sure that the possum had either, at least before the event in question...

But to continue with the adventures: after the workshop, Professor Claire gave me a lift to Cambridge, where I met up with my ex-desk neighbour, Dr. Hannah. Our plan for the day was a punt and a pint, which we managed beautifully. Hannah demonstrated her punting technique first, and then Carl (her husband) and I gave it a go. Ten points for each of us, because none of us fell in! We didn't even see anyone else fall in either, which was kind of disappointing. After out exertions, we were parched, and headed down the river to one of the pubs near Han and Carl's apartment. What a perfect way to spend the day!

1 comment:

  1. Ickworth house- how onomatopoeic!

    Disappointed that no-one fell in but no doubt there'll be lots more punters (pun intended) visiting Dr Hannah before her tenure is out. In fact I think Em is visiting soon- get practicing, Em!