July 04, 2011

I've Moved

Soon I’ll no longer be able to edit this blog and nobody will be able to comment on it, it’ll just sit here doing nothing. Very sad, I had a lot of fun blogging but I didn’t really dedicate the time to it recently (getting a PhD and all that) so I guess it really died a while back. Anyway, in what will hopefully be a spur to lots of new blogging activity, I’ve set up a new blog at http://tomkempton.blogspot.com/.

Byebye Warwick Blog!


April 01, 2011


Stumbled across this at the start of a movie the other day, it’s a poem by lord Byron.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

August 11, 2010

A New Project

UNESCO World Heritage Sites! There’s a list here of world heritage sites in Europe, they change the list from time to time so I’m fixing my target as this list. There are 413 across 45 countries – you get one point for each that you visit properly. I’m not counting seeing things from the outside if it’s possible to see them from the inside, and I’m not counting things I saw before I was eighteen because there are lots of these that I don’t remember properly. If sites are grouped but I’ve visited one of them properly than I’m being generous and letting that count – this is mainly because I don’t always know if I’ve visited the obscure thing that’s coupled with the famous one.

Currently I’ve got:
La Grand-Place, Brussels (1998)
Historic Centre of Brugge (2000)
Rila Monastery (1983)
Old City of Dubrovnik (1979, 1994)
Historic Centre of Prague (1992)
Paris, Banks of the Seine (1991)
Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (1990, 1992, 1999)
Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin (1999)
Upper Middle Rhine Valley (2002)
Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue (1987, 2002)
Masada (2001)
White City of Tel-Aviv—the Modern Movement (2003)
Historic Centre of Florence (1998)
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa (1987)
Historic Centre of Sighisoara (1999)
Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor (1979)
Durmitor National Park (1980)
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (1986)
Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret’s Church (1987)
Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church (1988)
Derwent Valley Mills (2001)
Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (2004)

The dates are the dates that they were designated world heritage sites.

Thats 22- hoping to pick up two in Albania plus Corfu town next week. This could take some time…

February 23, 2010

Market Forces

A thought: If they actually made the big issue interesting then you wouldn’t feel quite so good about yourself when buying it, and so would buy the big issue less often on average. This removes the incentive for the big issue to create quality material, and also explains why the big issue is so poor when there are so many talented English students graduating who would quite happily volunteer for six months in order to get some journalism experience. Hmmm…

February 01, 2010


I’m great at Italian. Every morning I come down from my room and offer my best buongiorno to the old man who runs the hotel. Should his dog have returned from her mornings wanderings of the streets of Pisa I offer the same to her too. The hotelier’s face lights up and he strikes a dramatic pose, feet slightly apart, before returning a buongiorno which puts mine to shame both in terms of enthusiasm and hand gestures. I’m not quite sure if he’s being serious or mocking me.

Then I stroll towards the maths building and call in at my favourite baker, who now recognises me, buy a chocolate croissant and sit down in the piazza for my breakfast in the sunshine. Life is beautiful here.


Crosswords are excellent things to do when you’re at the dreamy stage of doing maths. I’ve been working late some evenings while waiting for the research centre to clear of people so that Aspa can call, and this seemed an appropriate time to try the crossword from the paper I’ve been carrying around all week. I only have two clues which seems a fairly poor return for the half hour I’ve spent on it, but I was very proud. The clues are:

American cop gives sustenance (3)
Top receptionist keeps order (7)

I’m currently working on
Retro Jazz piece by the French composer (5)
but I’m all out of ideas. What does it mean when they put a question mark on the end? Like
Money essential if finishing early and retiring? (3)

hmm, many things to learn…

January 24, 2010


Today would be a perfect day for twitter, I arrived in Pisa last night and my conference doesn’t start until tomorrow so I have to keep all my inane thoughts to myself. Then I remembered my much neglected blog and thought I should write what I would have ‘tweeted’ were I technologically aware.

10.15: Just woke up, the light is so bright here even in January! Opened my curtains with excitement but all I can see is a few bins in a really tiny courtyard, inspecting the fire escape plan I see that all the other rooms are bigger than mine with a window that looks to the outside, hrmmp.

10.45 My shower has a fold down seat in it! I don’t take advantage of it this time as it’s my first morning and I don’t want all of my excitement on the first day.

11.00 Does having pizza for breakfast make you a bad person?

12.00 Why does everybody talk so negatively about Pisa? Sure it’s a little run down in places but there are some truly magnificent parts too. And lots of signs telling me that it’s illegal to buy fake merchandise.

12.15 I ring Aspa from a payphone hoping that she’ll be able to see my number and call me for free from Skype. Alas not, my euro disappears far too quickly.

13.00 So I knew it was called the leaning tower of Pisa and guessed it had a bit of a tilt but this thing really looks like it’s about to fall over. Mad. Lovely hills in the background, I might try and rent a bike.

15.00 Afternoon nap

16.00 BBC World is great! For a start they decide to spread their weather reports out over the hour, I know it’ll be foggy in Beijing on Tuesday but I’ll have to wait some unknown length of time to find out about Pisa. The Italian channels have beautiful people fighting with swords, I guess I don’t really need to understand what they’re saying.

17.00 “Just because somebody believes they’re the reincarnation of Jesus Christ it doesn’t make their opinions on other things invalid”. Genius line from a documentary about conspiracy theorists.

18.00 Is graffitti an italian word? There’s loads of it here which is a shame, surely there are better ways of fighting facism than painting ‘no facism’ on the wall of some historic building. And also better ways of desecrating historic buildings. I’m off to find some food, hopefully with wine.

Conference starts tomorrow – should be good. Also I’m generally not keeping my phone on so if you want to contact me then email is a good way.

November 24, 2009

Richard II

Hmm, it seems people have been commenting on my blog, wonderful. Unfortunately I’ve been neglectful and didn’t notice. Still, to flog a dead horse (is that a real expression, I’m somewhat dubious seeing it written down..), yes Richard most definitely does look like Art Garfunkel. I realise that most people reading this will be somewhat more familiar with Art Garfunkel than with Bridget’s dad, but here are Simon and Garfunkel at the concert in central park.

You have to click to about two minutes to avoid the irritating rubbish at the start

If I can write another two entries about him then I can call them Richard III and Henry IV part I, this will be hilarious. Still, if he ever stumbled across this he might find it a bit odd. Maybe better not.

September 16, 2009


Now the last thing I’d want is google searches for my name bringing up the blog of some muppet friend of my daughter, so I’m not going to right Richard’s full name, but does anybody think that Art Garfunkel looks a bit like Bridget’s dad from some angles? And since most people reading this won’t have any clue who I’m talking about, isn’t this song immense.

Simon & Garfunkel sing, “The Sound of Silence” in Central Park

Hmm, didn’t embed quite as I’d hoped but you can click the link

August 15, 2009

The Arts Student

Old adversaries you and I. And it was always you, with that steady self assurance and easy charm, it was always you the victor. I guess you pitied me somehow, with my awkward ways and usefulness to the world. I remember that look in your eyes when you told me that ‘dynamical’ really isn’t a word. But I’ve got something on you now, something big. Bigger than that time they caught the pope shoplifting. I mean when I was in Gauss’ graveyard and I really had to go you didn’t catch me relieving myself near his grave, I have more respect than that. You guys piss on your gods.

Maybe I’m being cryptic, perhaps you’re thinking of worse things and wondering how I found out. So I’ll get straight to the point. You write in library books. At first as I was flicking through a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea I thought it was just a fluke. But no, your inane and ridiculous comments fill every page of each of the five copies in the library. And then it’s not just that book, but all of them. I find the speech ‘to be or not to be’ annotated ‘Hamlet is in a funny mood’. Real deep.

So next time you smile condescendingly and place your arm on mine I’ll return the smile and let my eyes too fill with pity. Perhaps you won’t understand at first but eventually you’ll realise the mask has slipped. You guys write in library books.

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