The town centre has been decorated with seasonal lights. There’s a large tree in front of the clock tower.

big christmas tree

Twinkly lights hanging above the streets.

street lights

The Town Hall is adorned with this lit-up display.

lights on the town hall

The square in front of the Town Hall has a nativity manger, and this slightly unsettling Alice in Wonderland diorama.

creepy diorama

It’s not quite the Christmas spirit, but close enough.

The pubs have started serving mulled cider.

mulled cider

Yum.

There were some exciting events on campus. Firstly, a very large drill appeared near the George Porter building.

big drill

I wonder what they’re going to do with that thing.

The second, less-exciting event, was the royal visit. There were crowds out to see the royal couple, even if the general mood was not enthusiastic.

text message

Parts of the campus were cordoned off, the library entrance was blocked by security guards, there were police wandering around, and it was all a massive inconvenience.

I’ve started watching ‘Golden Kamuy’ - an anime set in Hokkaido in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War. I knew it was the sort of thing I’d enjoy, although it was taking me a while to get into it. Once I got invested in the story I somehow managed to blast through the first 10 episodes in only a few days. It has the same sort of emotional dangerous-adventure tropes as made in Abyss. I’m going to pace myself slowly for the rest of the series.

I edited some more videos with FFmpeg. I think I’ve cracked how to do overlays now.

ffmpeg -i "<video_file>.mp4" -i <overlay_logo>.png -filter_complex \
"[0:a]afade=t=out:st=380:d=25[audiofaded]; \
 [0:v]eq=brightness=0.17:saturation=1.2:contrast=1.2[b]; \
 [1:v]scale=100:-2[c]; \
 [b][c]overlay=700:40[x]; \
 [x]subtitles=<subs_file>.srt:force_style='Fontsize=27,fontname=Lato Bold'[out]" -map "[out]" -map [audiofaded] -to 00:06:41 <output>.mp4

So, that fades out the audio, does some colour correction on the video, adds an image overlay in the top right hand corner, and burns in hardcoded subtitles. Might come in useful in future.

I also found a series of paintings rendered to SVG by a user on OpenClipArt. I liked this image of the Headstone Viaduct in the Peak District; it’s currently serving as my desktop background.

Monsal Dale, originally painted by Jean Watson in 1879

Yesterday I did some cycle maintainance. I once saw a Deliveroo rider propping up his bike on the ping pong table outside the student halls.

It’s just the right height to work on.

bike maintainance

My gears have been playing up, and I found the culprit. The cable running to the derailleur was frayed and getting stuck in the bottom gear.

broken derailleur

I snapped off the mangled end and moved it out of harm’s way. I’m going to have to replace that cable at some point.

So, with an oiled chain and pumped-up tyres, I set out along the canal for the satellite village of Syston. Here’s the church.

church in Syston

Syston has an Aldi, a Poundstretcher, a Tesco, a Working-men’s club, and a Conservative club. The little shopping arcade in the centre has a card shop which sells Christmas candles. For a saturday afternoon there weren’t many people walking around, and lots of cars driving slightly too fast.

road in Syston

There’s also a small park and peace garden, with a plaque commemorating ‘William Bastard’ who apparently donated generously to the parish. Thank you, Mister Bastard.

I cycled back just after dark.

industrial estate at night

In order to get through to Abbey Park you have to pass through that little industrial estate. I know it’s not exactly beautiful but I kind of like this area, it’s quiet, one-storey warehouses and workshops. There’s a plan to redevelop the area and turn it over to housing, so it won’t stay that way for long.

In the evening I went to a public meeting organised in part by the Indian Workers Association.

Kiri Tunks NEU

The speakers were Kiri Tunks (NUT/NEU President), Angela Rayner (Labour shadow education secretary), and Bob Oram. The organisers also cooked up a really delicious lamb curry.

At the end Kiri Tunks came over and chatted with us. As president of the NUT she has this gold medallion.

NUT medal

Thanks to the NUT/ATL merger, she’ll be the last person to wear it in an official capacity. She also pointed out that the neck-ribbon was designed to be worn under a collar, which assumes the medal-holder is wearing a shirt… which assumes the medal-holder would be a man? It’s a curious relic of an organisation whose traditions go back to the 19th Century. They probably won’t make a new one for the NEU; it’s arguably not a good use of union funds to be forging gold medallions.

Less than two weeks to go until classes end and I return to Oxford.