Picture of the Week

19 September 2016

Week 37: Oxford and La Vuelta

Filed under: — Administrator @ 05:32

The week started in Oxford where I was attending the annual conference of the European Policy for Intellectual Property (EPIP) Association at Oxford University’s Pembroke College. It is one of the most important conferences in our little world of IP, and I attend it every year. This time was especially nice because I had enough free time to visit some places in Oxford that I did not have time for during previous visits to this lovely city.

And the week ended with the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España bicycle race, passing through Alicante province–in fact, finishing on a mountain pass which I have conquered on two wheels several times. So this week’s blog is quite varied, both geographically and thematically.

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I arrived in Oxford from Cardiff Saturday afternoon, checked into my accommodation at Pembroke College and then met up with my ex-trainee Antanina for some pints and pizza at the White Rabbit pub. Antanina is a wonderful example of the new Europe that is emerging, despite all its current problems. She is Lithuanian, born in the dying days of the Soviet Union in what was then one of its republics, of a Lithuanian/Georgian couple. She got her masters in economics in Italy, then did her traineeship with us, and another one with the World Intellectual Property Organization (part of the UN) in Geneva, and is now completing her PhD at the university of Padova in Italy. I have supported her with letters of recommendation etc. during the past couple of years, and I really enjoy meeting her and watching her develop professionally:
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This and the next few images have a cycling theme. Outside a Tesco Express, what looks to be like a homeless person’s bicycle:
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Oxford is very much a cycling town. It is flat; it is almost impossible to park a car inside the ring road; and it has a large student population. Unsurprisingly, there are many bicycle shops catering to those needs:
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Bicycle parking outside the train station:
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Renting a bike is easy too:
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Even some streets have cycling-related names:
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Sunday morning breakfast; the dining room at Pembroke College is a perfect place for a Full English:
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The dining room is decorated with paintings of famous figures from the past of Pembroke College, including Roger Banister who is known by most for having run the first sub-4 minutes mile, but who then went on to have a distinguished career as a medical researcher at Pembroke:
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I am not famous, but here is a picture of me taken by Antanina, in conference mode:
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This is how I spent Sunday morning, here listening to a presentation by Theodore Koutmeridis of the University of Glasgow:
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But then the 1.5 hour lunch break arrived, and I used it to visit the Ashmolean Museum, something I have wanted to do for a long time:
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The Ashmolean is especially strong on antiquity. In the Egypt/Nubia hall one can admire this sculpture of the fertility god Min from 3300 BC:
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A young boy’s wonderment. This is what museums are for:
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After my cultural lunch break, I went back to the conference for the afternoon sessions. In the evening we were going to have the official conference dinner, but there was time for a proper pint at the White Horse pub. Good beer, pretty girls, cricket. What more can one want?
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I do not photograph flowers much, but I liked the contrast between the intense colours of the flowers and the grey walls of Pembroke College:
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Dinner at the Pembroke College. Thoughts of Harry Potter were inevitable:
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There was a voice quartet serenading us during dinner:
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Two of my table companions, a fellow economist from the European Patent Office in Munich and a Japanese guy whom I had not met before. The organisers had done a good job of mixing people so that you sat with someone you knew but also with people you had not met before:
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The stairway leading to the storage rooms and, more importantly, the toilets, at the dining hall. Clearly one should not drink too much:
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When I got up Monday morning, things did not look promising, weather-wise:
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At least the rain made the flowers look pretty:
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None of the morning sessions were interesting, so despite the rain, I ventured into the town. I liked this advertisement for a betting shop:
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My agenda for this Monday morning was the Bodleian Library. This is the Divinity School, which was used as the hospital in the first two Harry Potter movies:
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The courtyard of the Bodleian Library:
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The Bridge of Sighs, officially the Hertford Bridge:
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After seeing the glories of the Bodleian, I made my way to the Blackwells bookshop, the original one, founded in 1879. If you like books, this place is paradise:
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Totally right:
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Even in this seat of learning, there are apparently stupid people willing to waste money on superstition:
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Monday afternoon I took the train from Oxford to Gatwick Airport and flew home to Alicante.

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During the week, I went out for lunch in the city and as always, the camera was around my neck. I like the signs of the businesses in the barrio:
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Sign of the times–someone has posted his CV in the street, looking for a job:
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Waiting:
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A dog walk picture from the park. No idea why this orange snake is there (it had disappeared by the following morning):
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On Saturday afternoon, the Vuelta a España was passing through our region. It was the penultimate stage, with a mountain finish, and so the last chance for Chris Froome to try to make up the approximately 1 1/2 minute deficit to the leader, Nairo Quintana. At the end of the stage, the cyclists climbed the Puerto de Tudons, a pass which I also visit on bicycle from time to time, then descended into the town of Relleu, also on my usual itinerary, then climbed the Puerto de Tudons from the other side, before finishing at the Alto de Aitana air force base, a further 500 meters up from the pass. In the end, Quintana repulsed Froome’s attacks and the two leaders finished together, with Quintana therefore winning the Vuelta. In a touch of class, Froome applauded Quintana at the finish line. I went to watch the cyclists pass by in Relleu, at the end of their descent from Puerto de Tudons. There was a sharp swing which forced the cyclists to slow down to about 15 km/h, so a good spot from a photo point of view. A complete record is here, but below I present a few of the images.

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The local spectators waiting for the Vuelta. There were a lot of Belgian and Dutch people in the crowd:
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Part of the peleton passing by:
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Covering the race is not for the faint-hearted:
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The landscape through which they cycled:
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The view of Relleu from the spot where I parked:
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Additional pictures from Oxford are here.

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