Glastonbury for Geeks, San Francisco Dreamforce ‘15



SAN FRANCISCO gave itself over to ‘Dreamforce’ for a few days in September. Now in its 12th year the event was bigger than ever. Usually busy roads were closed to traffic and rolled over with fake grass, inflatable arm chairs, stages, huge screens and food and drink stops. A 1,000 berth cruiseliner moored near Fisherman’s Wharf to provide extra accommodation. Airbnb apartments were available for $1,000 a night.  Stevie, Wonder, the Foo Fighters and Japanese artist Yoshiki played. But this was not a music festival - it was a software conference.


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Cycling along the Canal du Midi

From the Herald Saturday Magazine, May 11 2013

Just as ‘slow food’ generally tastes better than fast food, slow transport – at least on holiday – is a more enjoyable way to travel. Better still when the travelling is done in the sunny south of France, in the shade of plane trees and with frequent pit stops.
Whether by bike or by barge, the journey along one of France’s grandest feats of pre-revolutionary engineering, the Canal du Midi, is increasingly popular.

Holidays in Scotland and France

 From a Scottish Review special on memorable Scottish holidays.

   Perhaps the most memorable Scottish holiday I know of was not mine but someone else's. Once, I took a taxi in Coatbridge driven by a man with a fund of stories. A couple have stuck in my mind. Once he was booked to take an elderly resident to Asda. He waited for her in the car park on a sunny day and when she emerged, hot and laden with bags, she said to him: 'Take me to Largs, son, take me to Largs'. 

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A Fair Trade Holiday

House swapping in Franche Comte, from the Herald Saturday magazine on September 1, 2012

When I opened an email on a grim winter's day offering a holiday house swap for a cottage in the mountains near the border of France and Switzerland, it didn't take me too long to reply "ooh, quelle bonne idee". We hadn't planned a foreign holiday but free accommodation in beautiful surroundings seemed too good to turn down.

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Holidaying with teens in Sutherland

Herald, Saturday magazine 30 May 2011

To say our teenagers were not keen on a week in a cottage in the far north of Scotland would be like saying Ryan Giggs is not a fan of Twitter. It was not, apparently, their idea of a holiday. The word they used in fact was “nightmare”. But I closed my ears to their girning – second nature now – and insisted they pack plenty of warm clothes and borrow some holiday reading from the school library.

Of course, I told myself, no self-respecting teenager would welcome a week in the Highlands with their parents. I am sure I made the same kind of extravagant complaints myself – but I did enjoy it once I was there.

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