Category Archives: Conferencing

The lure of landscapes

Just six days until Louisa and I board a plane to Los Angeles and then to Phoenix, Arizona. I am attending a conference in Phoenix before Louisa and I grab a hire car and road trip to Sedona, Arizona; the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; Laughlin, Nevada; and finally to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Just as Ollie and I took a mother-and-son trip to England, Denmark and the Netherlands in 2013 when he was 8-years-old, Louisa and I are doing a mother-and-daughter trip now she is 8.

We are planning to hire an electric bike in Phoenix for a sunset tour of the skyline and go horseback riding at the Canyon Creek Dude Ranch. Later we’ll be staying in a little Nevada casino town on the Colorado River. And then we have three days at Disneyland.

But I am most looking forward to driving out from Phoenix, the “Valley of the Sun”, to the majestic landscapes of:



Sedona, Arizona

and the Grand Canyon.


South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

I love a big landscape, whether majestic Mackenzie Country on the South Island of New Zealand, which I visited two years ago today;

Mackenzie Country

Mackenzie Country, Canterbury, New Zealand

or the rolling dunes of the Southern (green) Kalahari Desert in north west South Africa, which we visited 3 years ago;


Tswalu, Southern Kalahari, South Africa

or the dramatic escarpments and valleys of the western Blue Mountains, which we visited in January this year.

blue mountains

Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains, Australia

I love a big landscape! I love thinking about how they came into being; what ancient forces carved and shaped them; what they were like before we — humans — came; and what they will be like when we are gone. I love learning about the wildlife, the legends, and histories of the earliest inhabitants and later settlers of these landscapes.


1832 Settlers’ Homestead in Wolgan Valley dwarfed by the surrounding escarpments

Louisa and I will share our photos and the things we learn as we travel. Please stay tuned!

thelma and louise

A road trip but with a much happier ending! Disneyland!


The day before the day before we leave: Packing

Peter and I are packing for ourselves and the kids — Oliver and Louisa — before we fly to Africa in less than 36 hours. We realised today, as we debated which bags to pack what into, that we have an awful lot of luggage lying around our house. Peter has the original backpack he took on his first journey around Africa more than 20 years ago, as well as the backpack from his 18 month sailing voyage from Sydney to Europe via South East Asia and the King’s Cup in Thailand, across the Indian Ocean and up the Red Sea to the Sailing World Cup in Cyprus. And I have luggage galore from an academic career of conferencing and lab visits around the world, not to mention an ongoing love affair with Crumpler and Rushfaster, among other luggage and travel specialists (Magellan’s, Flight 001, Ciao Bella Travel …).

Our packing task this trip has a slightly higher degree of difficulty because although we each can take 40 kilograms of checked luggage and 7 kgs of hand luggage onto our international flights, we only are allowed 12 kgs of checked luggage and 6 kgs of hand luggage each on the small private plane that will take us 850 kilometres north from Cape Town to the game reserve, Tswalu Kalahari.

We also need to bring formal(ish) wear for dinner on The Blue Train, which will take us from Johannesburg to Cape Town on one of the first legs of our journey. And Tswalu is almost the last leg of our journey after 5 days in Cape Town. So where and how to pack any souvenirs we might like to buy?

So here’s our first crucial piece of packing equipment: a portable digital travel scale. I picked mine up in Flight 001 in San Francisco, but you can buy similar versions very easily. For around $20 you can keep under those weight limits.


I also really love Herschel Packable Luggage. I have a backpack, again from Flight 001, which transforms from a small little soft parcel that is easily stashed in your bag into a good sized, light weight backpack. I use it when I hire a bike during a conference trip or when out and about for the day.



For this trip and for Father’s Day, the kids gave Peter a packable version of Herschel’s duffle bag:


10078-00003-OS_02_0503e114-8135-4a8d-bb99-3b760d2ba317_grandeThis will be perfect for when we need to decant some of our luggage for The Blue Train trip. Our sweet little sleeper cabins (perfectly formed but limited space) can’t fit all of our luggage, so we need to separate what we need for the train journey from everything else, which will be stored in a luggage hold.


Herschel Packables also include a messenger bag and a tote. I often buy a cheap tote bag from the airport book store to carry my overflow water bottles, coat, magazines etc, but Herschel’s likely would be more long lasting.


My final go to bag when packing is my Crumpler Dry Red No 5 backpack. I have blogged about this before and have been singing the praises of this bag far and wide. Recently I purchased two of these bags in black for our memory research team, so they can transport our electronic and audio equipment back and forth from Sydney to Melbourne. This carry on bag safely stores my laptop, iPad, kindle, a change of clothes, wallet, some toiletries, paperwork and other odds and ends.

I adore Crumpler bags and have far too many or not enough. This is one of my favourites:

Crumpler Dry Red No 5 Backpack

Crumpler Dry Red No 5 Backpack

So back to the packing. The only other challenge we face is that Peter and I both are reasonably seasoned travellers; at least for work travel. So we each have our own preferred luggage, methods of packing, tricks and lists. Yes, so back to the packing and the negotiations. Next stop: the airport.










Back across the Bay

I am reviving this blog for a couple of weeks to record my upcoming trip to the 64th Annual Workshops and Scientific Session of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in Berkeley, California, across the Bay from San Francisco. This venerable Society was founded in 1949 following the success of hypnosis on the battlefields of World War II. SCEH formalised these clinical successes as well as capitalised on an experimental history as long as any other area of psychology (and perhaps longer than psychology itself).

SCEH 2013


My personal history in hypnosis also is entwined with SCEH. My very first international conference was SCEH's 45th Annual Meeting way back in 1994. It was held in San Francisco's Hotel Nikko in Japan Town.

I remember:

  • Meeting all of my heroes in hypnosis, who I only had read about: Ernest Hilgard, John Kihstrom, Kenneth Bowers, Jean-Roch Laurence, Erik Woody, Bob Nadon, Steve Lynn, Mike Nash;
  • Feeling like a Martian who finally had returned home to her people (because almost nobody else was doing hypnosis research in Australia when I was doing it);
  • People coming up to kiss me and congratulate me after my talk; my first big international talk;
  • My parents standing proudly up the back listening to my talk;
  • My supervisor trying to get us into a bikie bar!

It will be lovely to be back in San Francisco at the same conference nearly 20 years after I first attended; seeing some of the same faces again.

Following my PhD I spent time as a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, working in Professor John Kihlstrom’s laboratory and living in Berkeley’s beautiful International House. I-House stands at the top of the Berkeley campus, at the foot of the Berkeley Hills, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. The building itself is gorgeous; built in Mission style and opened in 1930. Although I have been back to San Francisco many times since that postdoc year in 1998, I have not been back to Berkeley. I am looking forward to it.

International House, Berkeley, California


So I will post to let you know the latest from the world of hypnosis and from San Francisco, one of my favourite cities in the world.

If only the America's Cup was still on!



Ten tips for travelling with kids

Although I have travelled many times to conferences and for work, my trip with Oliver to Europe was the first time one of my children accompanied me. Now that Oliver and I are well and truly home, here are my top tips for a great work or holiday travel experience with a kid (with the caveat that I travelled with just one kid; a pretty easy going 8-year-old kid at that). These things worked for us:

1. Maintain bedtime

In England, Denmark and the Netherlands, the sun didn't go down until very late; after 9pm. In fact, we travelled just before and after the summer solstice, so during the longest days of the year. It was tempting to make use of these long days. But on the advice of my friend Jennie (who recently travelled to London with her similarly aged daughter), I mostly maintained Oliver's usual bedtime; around 7-8pm with only a few exceptions. When we first arrived in London, jet lag meant Oliver was ready for bed even earlier. But after he was mostly over his jet lag, I still tried to stick with early nights. This became difficult in Rotterdam where conference activities finished late and everyone then headed to dinner. We stayed out late our first night in Rotterdam (bed at 10.30pm) but on subsequent nights we skipped these dinners and ordered room service. In return, Oliver was fairly well rested for the busy days and the cumulative stress and exhaustion of travelling. Lights out at 8 o'clock was a little boring for me once I was over the jet lag, but I just wrote our blog or watched TV on my iPad (Season 1 of House of Cards!).


2. Let the kid decide

Whenever possible I let Oliver decide what we would do and see. In London there were a couple of things I definitely wanted to do, such as the Tower of London. But otherwise, I suggested options to Oliver and let him choose. For instance, in London we went to the London Zoo two afternoons in a row. Oliver loved it and wanted to go back. Once in the zoo, he cycled over and over between visits to the gorillas, monkeys, and meerkats, with a little of the tigers, african hunting dogs, aquarium, and reptiles. This is what he wanted to do and I let him, rather than pressure him to go to new places I thought he would like. He's still talking about the meerkats! A similar thing happened in Rotterdam. One morning he went with Nina, John and Doris to an architecture museum. The next morning when I had free time he didn't want to go somewhere else, but back to the same museum to show me what he had seen.


3. Don't crowd the days

When travelling to new places it is tempting to squeeze in lots of sights and activities; after all, how soon will we be back in Denmark? But a string of long days wears everyone out. We tried not to do too many things in one day and tried not to feel obligated to stay at any one place. For example, one morning in London Oliver and I visited the British Museum. You could spend days there. But Oliver was ready to leave after 90 minutes; so we left. We missed things, but when I abandoned any idea of a list of “must do” sights, it didn't matter. Given this is what worked best for us, next time I wouldn't buy the London Pass. It's really only value for money when you do a number of things each day.


4. Allow plans to change

Some days I made plans in my head of our likely itinerary. But then it didn't pan out. In London we abandoned our plan to go to Legoland Windsor after I read terrible reviews on TripAdvisor. Another day we planned to go to the Tower of London but my day pass for the train was off peak, meaning I couldn't use it until after 9.30am. So instead we wandered to Buckingham Palace and got sidetracked by Churchill's War Rooms. We also planned to take a tour of Chelsea Football Stadium, but then Oliver realised the football season was over and a tour meant just seeing the stadium not the team. Our plans changed again. I realised that as long as we were having fun it didn't matter if we missed some things I originally planned.

A somewhat related issue was money spent on unfamiliar food or drinks. In Aarhus, for instance, Oliver and I took a break in a cafe and ordered a skim milk hot chocolate and a smoothie (or so we thought). But things are made and taste differently in different countries and Oliver didn't like his drink. He tried it but didn't want to finish it. I learned not to sweat money “wasted” on such things (see point 9 below).


5. Remember “trival” things can be just as fun

Amidst our busy travel and conference schedule, Oliver enjoyed many simple things. One morning in London he asked to go feed the ducks in Hyde Park. All this cost us was a half a loaf of bread we didn't plan to eat anyway. In return Oliver spent a wonderful hour in the park. He also enjoyed learning the London Underground, meeting and patting people's dogs in the various parks, kicking a cobblestone around the streets of Aarhus, and sitting in cafe windows and watching people go by (noticing differences between them and people at home). Unplanned, seemingly trivial activities often were just as fun as the big outings and sights. They certainly were a lot cheaper.


6. Your company and attention are worth as much as the sights you will see

Oliver was four when his sister, Louisa, was born. Since she was born he has fought to focus some attention away from her — she has been quite demanding — and back to him. To my mind, one of the very best parts of our trip was the one-on-one time that Oliver and I spent together. I know he enjoyed almost everything we saw and did together but I'm pretty sure he enjoyed as much the fact that he had (almost) my undivided attention. I loved when he said to me after our trip to the Natural History Museum in London that his favourite part of the day was spending it with me!


7. Schedule a rest day

I think it is really important to schedule down time. In London, between morning and afternoon activities we often went back to the hotel for an hour or so rest. I find travelling exhausting and I've travelled a great deal. It must be incredibly overwhelming and tiring for kids. In Aarhus we spent an entire day — the Sunday — doing almost nothing. This allowed us to recharge before we raced off the next day to Legoland and then on to Rotterdam for our last, hectic leg of the trip.


8. Watch for signs of jet lag meltdown (tired, hungry)

Both from Sydney to London and from Rotterdam to Sydney, we travelled approximately 30 hours door to door and crossed many, many time zones. This is hard enough on an adult, let alone on a kid. During the trip I was vigilant for signs of “jet lag meltdown”. Sometimes Oliver didn't realise that he was hungry or tired because his body clock was so out of whack (although he slept brillantly). He just felt unhappy. So we made a pact to be patient with one another when we were feeling a bit cranky; I made sure Oliver got as much sleep as possible; and I encouraged him to eat when he might be hungry. For breakfasts, I bought simple food from the corner store to eat when he first woke up (which in London was quite early) then we had a second, later breakfast when we were out and about. So my advice is to plan for the hunger and tiredness and count to ten!


9. Find familiar foods

Oliver was happy to try new foods. He especially enjoyed the Dutch pancakes that the breakfast chef (who took a bit of a shine to Oliver) made for him in Rotterdam. But he also appreciated familiar foods, particularly since his eating schedule was thrown entirely off kilter by jetlag. In London, in Marks and Spencer, Boots or Pret a Manger, we easily found ham and cheese sandwiches and apples (two favourites), which helped his transition to the new time and environment.


10. Choose hotels with wi-fi (and bring a device or two)

We spent a lot of time in transit and Oliver spent a lot of time in conference venues. He maintained his good humour in part by listening to music, reading on, or playing on his iPad mini. Occasionally he wanted to download new things or to play online. In Aarhus, he was lucky to find another boy at the conference and they played side by side on their iPads while I was giving my talk. So I was pleased and mildly surprised to find that every hotel we stayed in and the conference venues all had free wi-fi for an unlimited number of devices. This contrasts with my most recent stay in the US, where wi-fi cost me $16 a day for one device. Free wi-fi also made my blogging much easier. Many European hotels include free wi-fi. It is worth looking out for it when booking accommodation.


So those are my top tips. What are your best tips for a great trip with kids?


Our last days in Rotterdam and Europe … heading home

Oliver and I fly home to Sydney tomorrow. We are packed and ready to check out in the morning. Once we check out, we catch a metro train from our hotel to Rotterdam Central, then an express train to Amsterdam Schiphol airport, then a 3 hour or so wait for our first flight, then a 6.5 hour flight to Dubai, then a 2 hour lay over in Dubai, then a 14 hour flight to Sydney, then immigration, customs, a taxi and home to our beds!

We will spend the better part of 30 hours travelling door to door. I'm not looking forward to it because I caught a cold somewhere on our travels and feel pretty ordinary today. A man at the conference, who also has a cold, told me tonight that 25% of people develop a cold within a couple of days of flying!

Although Oliver and I have been busy at the conference — Oliver has made a lot of friends amongst the conference delegates — we squeezed in a few final fun things together.

Yesterday (Friday) afternoon, Oliver took a swim in the very fancy hotel pool. The pool deck has amazing views of the Rotterdam skyline.

Our hotel pool


On Friday Oliver also visited The New Institute (or Het Nieuwe Instituut in Dutch) with Nina, Doris and John. Oliver was keen to take me there this morning and navigated us back past Rotterdam landmarks without any trouble. Rotterdam has many wonderful museums and art galleries. Het Nieuwe Instituut “celebrates the innovative power of architecture, design and e-culture”. Right now it is staging an exhibition called “The Ruins”. Architecture seems to play a very important part in the history and life of the Netherlands. Rotterdam is considered the architectural capital of the Netherlands with a daring and impressive skyline. You can read more about Rotterdam architecture here.

It struck me as we walked to Het Nieuwe Instituut that old and new co-exist easily side by side in Rotterdam; a testament to the success of rebuilding following the devastation of World War II.

Sights on our way to Het Nieuwe Instituut


The displays at Het Nieuwe Instituut were fantastic and strange. They rather defy description. I think they aimed to express what architecture means to peope in the Netherlands, but i wasn't entirely sure (I guess like all great art?) Better to see (below) than to have me try to tell.






Whatever they meant, Oliver loved them, running from one display to the next, pointing things out. At the end he played for ages in a large building space. Here he used giant foam blocks to create his own architecture.


This afternoon Oliver and I sat in the hotel lobby and said goodbye to our conference friends. Some we will see at home, some we will be in touch with, some we won't see again until the next SARMAC conference (in Canada in 2015; Oliver is already planning to attend).

Tonight we had a final, quiet dinner with Rochelle — my wonderful, long term conference companion — and ran into still more conference friends starting to make their own way home.

Rochelle and Oliver at our last dinner in Rotterdam


Oliver is asleep now. And I will be soon. The last day and night of a wonderful trip together.

Thanks for reading about our adventures. We will see you soon in Sydney.

Amanda and Oliver

My favourite image of Oliver from our visit to Het Nieuwe Instituut


Rotterdam: A city rebuilt

On Wednesday morning Oliver and I packed our bags yet again and walked to Amsterdam Central Railway Station where we bought tickets to Rotterdam. I wish I had the knack of packing light because our bags have grown heavier with each stop; they now are full of solders, knights, books, soccer gear, Crumpler bags etc etc.

Waiting on the platform at Amsterdam Central Station


We arrived in Rotterdam after a slower than expected train journey then a race to the conference hotel in a pricey cab. My first conference session had already started, but I arrived just in time to give my 5 minute talk.

After the talk, we checked into our hotel. For reasons unexplained we were upgraded to a room in a 5 star hotel next to the conference hotel (at no extra cost). So our room easily is the biggest and fanciest we have had on this trip. The room is spacious. We have a spa bath (after no baths only showers everywhere else) and a TV embedded in the bathroom mirror! This morning Oliver enjoyed a bubbly spa bath while watching TV. We are on the top floor of the hotel with a wonderful view over the port of Rotterdam. Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and the 5th largest port in the world.

Our room at the Mainport Hotel, Rotterdam


So Rotterdam very much is a working harbour, like Sydney, and we have wonderful views day and night of many different vessels.


Today I've been at the Biennial Conference of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition: giving two talks (one for myself and one for Penny Van Bergen; both went well), tossing around ideas, and lining up new connections for our team. Five other members of our team — Adam Congleton, Aline Cordonnier, Doris McIlwain, Amanda Selwood, and John Sutton — also gave talks today, which were very well received. Tomorrow and Saturday Rochelle Cox and Misia Temler, also from our group, will present their talks. So, busy.

Oliver went out and about today with the lovely Nina McIlwain, Doris and John's daughter. Oliver has loved being part of the conference scene, talking to people in the team and to researchers from all around the world. I think he is enjoying the limelight as the only kid at the conference. Nina was that kid once, as the daughter of two academics who have travelled far and wide to conferences. She is incredibly smart, articulate and warm and I hope Oliver turns out just like her!

This evening we went to a reception at the Rotterdam City Hall, called Stadhuis. The City Hall, completed in 1915, is one of only two buildings that survived bombing by the Germans on 14th May 1940. On that day, German bombers razed to the ground almost the entire old city, much of it dating from medieval times. Here is what Wikipedia says about the Rotterdam Blitz:

In total, 1,150 50-kilogram and 158 250-kilogram bombs were dropped, mainly in the residential areas of Kralingen and the medieval city centre. Most of these hit and ignited buildings, resulting in uncontrollable fires that worsened the following days when the wind grew fiercer and the fires emerged into a firestorm … Although exact numbers are not known, nearly 1,000 people were killed and 85,000 made homeless. Around 2.6 square kilometres of the city was almost levelled. 24,978 homes, 24 churches, 2,320 stores, 775 warehouses and 62 schools were destroyed.

Below is a painting of Rotterdam sometime between 1890 and 1905, before World War II and the German bombing. You can see the Tower of St. Lawrence' Church, built around 1660, in the background:


Now here is a photo of Rotterdam after the German bombing. Again you can see the Tower of St. Lawrence' Church, this time in ruins:


This photo reminded me of the destruction in Christchurch, New Zealand, still very evident two years after their devastating earthquakes (including the February 2011 earthquake). Here is a photo I took with my brother Gary in April this year. Like Rotterdam, almost all of Christchurch's buildings were destroyed and/or need to be pulled down. An entire city centre gone for all time.

The Christchurch Cathedral after the February 2011 earthquake


Will Christchurch be able to rebuild as Rotterdam has done so successfully? Circumstances are, of course, very different but it was inspiring to visit the beautiful Rotterdam Stadhuis — almost the lone survivor of an earlier age — and then walk outside and around their new Rotterdam.

Inside Rotterdam City Hall or Stadhuis

Inside Rotterdam City Hall or Stadhuis

Outside Rotterdam City Hall or Stadhuis

Modern Rotterdam


Tomorrow is more conferencing while Oliver and Nina seek out some fun. Then later in the day I hope to see more of Rotterdam with Oliver before final conferencing on Saturday and then we fly home from Amsterdam on Sunday. We will let you know what we discover!


Social Perspectives on Autobiographical Memory

It is Thursday here in Aarhus, Denmark, and today Oliver and I attended an academic conference called “Social Perspectives on Autobiographical Memory”.

About 115 people from around the world have gathered to hear lectures on autobiographical memory and to present their research.

This morning there were three keynote talks: one on memory errors and distortions, one on social influences on children’s memory, and one on memory and identity. All fascinating!

After lunch we had a “poster session”. This is where people pin up posters that describe their research. It’s the same idea as a poster for a school project, except the posters are usually bigger and printed on fancy material.

You hang your poster on a board and then stand beside it for 1-2 hours while people at the conference walk around, read the posters and talk to the owners of the posters. This afternoon five people from my department and research team at Macquarie presented posters: Adam Congleton (top left photo below), Aline Cordonnier (top right), Rochelle Cox (bottom left), Amanda Selwood (bottom right) and Misia Temler (who escaped my camera). They got lots of comments and questions.


Adam Congleton (top left), Aline Cordonnier (top right), Rochelle Cox (bottom left), Amanda Selwood (bottom right)

I presented a poster for Penny Van Bergen (bottom right photo below), which also got lots of useful comments and questions (which I will email to you Penny!). Finally, we saw many of our colleagues and friends from around the world presenting their work, including Charlie Stone (bottom left photo below) who did a PhD with us at Macquarie, is now finishing up a postdoctoral fellowship in Belgium, and soon will be on his way to a new job in New York.


Sitting in the first keynote lecture (top left), Aline discussing her poster (top right), Charlie Stone presenting his poster (bottom left), Penny Van Bergen’s poster (bottom right)

Oliver was very happy to make a friend today. A nine year old boy from Turkey, Selim Tekcan (right photo below) who attended the conference with his father, academic Ali Tekcan.

Oliver and Selim kept each other company throughout the day, swapping suggestions for iPad games, playing Minecraft together and generally hanging out. This meant that they spent what could have been quite a boring day in good spirits and very well behaved during the formal talks. Everyone at the conference thought they did brilliantly and enjoyed talking with them.


Oliver outside the Aarhus Town Hall (left) and Oliver and Selim (right)

This afternoon we went to a reception at the Aarhus Town Hall – a very beautiful and quite famous building (left photo above). Then we went to the conference dinner, where Oliver sat next to Charlie and had a grand time. He’s hoping to see Charlie again tomorrow and then in Rotterdam when we all head to our next conference.

Everyone at the conference made Oliver feel extremely welcome and he made me proud with his excellent behaviour. In fact, I think he enjoyed being the centre of so much adult attention, especially in his fancy conference dinner jacket!


Oliver in his fancy jacket at the Conference Dinner (left) and Oliver with Charlie (right)

In the morning I give my keynote talk, which I hope will go well. So I better get some sleep!


i Danmark (in Denmark)

This afternoon Oliver and I arrived in Denmark after a 10 hour journey from London. We flew to Copenhagen and then to Aarhus. Both of us are really tired after this journey on top of the flights from Sydney last Friday and Saturday.

We were supposed to attend an informal conference dinner this evening but arrived in town much later than expected. So we gave our apologies, had a quick take away meal, a brief walk around the city centre and now are planning to sleep (in fact Oliver is deep asleep as I type).

My first memory conference starts bright and early in the morning, so I want to be reasonably refreshed for it.

Three quick things I’ve noticed about Aarhus and then I promise some photos in the next few days; it is a beautiful town in very lush, green countryside.

First, the Danes here love their bikes. Bikes everywhere, which must be good for their mental health. I should ask Celia — who lived here for a year — whether they ride them in winter.

Second, no one seems to lock up their bikes. I noticed lots and lots of bikes in the street awaiting the return of their owners, but hardly any bike locks. That says something awfully nice about the place, don’t you think?

Which reminds me, the people we’ve met so far are lovely! One local overheard us at the airport talking about how to get into town. She stopped to give directions to a bus to town then walked off. After we gathered our things we saw her again outside the terminal, waiting for us and pointing to the bus. When we climbed aboard and said how glad we were to make the bus in time, the driver said he knew we were coming because the lady told him we needed the bus and would be out in a moment. Nice!

Third, it’s interesting to notice the somewhat distinct change in — what’s the word? — perhaps cultural background. Obviously the language sounds quite different to our ears (although it seems most Danes speak fluent English; apparently they learn it from 3rd grade). But I also noticed that colouring is quite different. Out of hundreds and hundreds of people we watched go by this evening, I noticed only two with red hair like Oliver’s. I read somewhere that the proportion of red heads in the population is decreasing but Scotland remains home to the largest proportion; 30% of Scots have red hair. Perhaps this explains why Oliver is going through a phase of speaking in an (as he thinks) Scottish accent and calling me “laddy”?!

Oliver made the man at the front desk laugh this evening when he asked if there was a way to change the language on the tv channels from Danish to English. Oliver had been watching some tv and trying to find an English speaking station. He thought the language was an option he could switch. “Unfortunately not” came the reply from the friendly fellow at the front desk.

I’m not sure what Oliver is making of these quite different – yet somewhat familiar – people and places. It must be a lot for an 8 year old to take in when his world has been much more narrowly bounded. He asked today on the plane to Copenhagen if there is a faster way to get home from Europe. He has still not quite recovered from the disruption of that crazy, long travel leg from Sydney to London. It seemed to him to take forever. Almost like going to the moon!

Or at least to the sea. I hear seagulls calling somewhere close by and perhaps even the sound of sailing boats clinking together. Soothing sounds for sleep. More soon!


5 days to go, Apple apps for travelling and travel blogging

With just 5 days to go, I’ve been busy backing up my iPhone and iPad, downloading potentially helpful travel apps, and organising my iPhone and iPad screens (as well as downloading some new tv shows to watch on the plane and in the hotels; I know better than to rely on British or European tv!). I read somewhere that it is a good idea to rearrange your device screens so that you save the apps you will use while travelling on your home screen or collect them together on one screen.

My iPhone home screen

My iPhone home screen

If you’re interested generally in the iPhone apps other people find useful and how they organise them — especially their home screen – then check out David Sparks’ MacSparky blog.

Meanwhile, below I summarise the iPhone and iPad apps that Oliver and I will be using on our trip in case you are planning a trip (and/or planning some blogging).

For travel:

  • Dropbox (iPhone and iPad, free): Dropbox is a free online storage system. I signed up for an account and can upload or download, as well as share, files from anywhere and with anyone. I store copies of my travel documents in my Dropbox account.


    GoodReader app

  • Facebook (iPhone and iPad, free): An obvious choice for keeping  everyone up to date with our movements.
  • GoodReader (iPhone and iPad, $5.49): GoodReader is a PDF reader for iPhone and iPad. Read any and all documents with ease and add comments into the documents. I upload a copy of my travel documents into GoodReader on both my iPhone and iPad, so when I need to know the address of our hotel, I can glance at my iPhone and not dig out paperwork.
  • Kindle (iPad, free): I have a Kindle reader but I have the Kindle app on my iPad just in case.
  • London Pass (iPhone, free): Oliver and I bought London Passes, which allow entry into a huge range of London attractions. I’m not sure that they will end up cheaper than paying at each attraction but the Passes include priority entry into places such as the Tower of London, which have huge queues in the summertime. This app lists all the places we can visit with a London Pass and how to get there. It also suggests itineraries and lets us bookmark our favourite attractions for a ready-made list of things to do when we arrive.

    Meeting Gold app

    Meeting Gold app

  • Meeting Gold (iPad, $10.49): Meeting Gold is an app for taking notes and tracking actions in meetings. I use this app every day of my work week for my student supervision meetings and all other meetings. I used to take paper notes in meetings, but didn’t have any reliable system for filing what we discussed and who agreed to do what. Follow up meetings meant flicking back through pages in my notebook (or an earlier notebook). With Meeting Gold I can set up a document for each meeting in my calendar (it syncs beautifully with my Gmail calendar), write any pre-meeting notes, write an agenda, and attach and view any documents for the meeting. During the meeting, I can take notes, tick off agenda items, and refer to the attached documents. I also can easily look back at the meeting document of a related past meeting (or even insert sections from past meetings into a new meeting document). After the meeting I can write a summary of what we discussed and agreed on, create actions for myself or others to follow-up and sync them to my task management software, Omnifocus, then email the document to people who attended the meeting. Meeting Gold automatically backs up my meeting documents to Dropbox. It’s a really powerful piece of software. While we are away I will be using Meeting Gold to take notes in conference sessions and any face-to-face meetings. At work I use Meeting Gold on the iPad with an external bluetooth keyboard, but it is fine with just the iPad keyboard and means I will be carrying less each conference day (just my iPad not my Mac Book Pro).
  • Native Weather app (iPhone, free): For day-to-day weather at home I rely on the Pocket Weather Australia app. But when travelling I use the iPhone’s native weather app. It’s not super detailed, but it gives a 5-6 day forecast (now it is cloudy and 12 degrees celsius in London, cloudy and 16 degrees in Aarhus, and cloudy and 13 degrees in Rotterdam. Helpful for packing!).
  • Packing Pro (iPhone and iPad, $2.99): You know that I’m an early packer and I’ve flirted with a couple of packing apps. Packing Pro is my current choice although I am pretty sure it is too complicated for me.
  • Prezi (iPhone and iPad, free): You might also know that I’m writing my Keynote Talk for the Aarhus Conference using online presentation software, Prezi. Prezi also offers iPhone and iPad apps to view, present and edit (minor editing only) presentations on the go. This will come in handy as I practice the timing of my talk in my hotel room.
  • Skype (iPhone and iPad, free): Can you remember travelling when you had to go buy a phone card and then it would run out about one and a half seconds after calling home? Well, Skype makes phone cards and hotel-phone-bill-shock a thing of the past. The only downside is when you can’t find a fast enough wi-fi connection to make a call with video. But it is great for keeping in touch with the kids.
  • Touchnote (iPhone and iPad, free): Touchnote lets you print and send your iPhone or iPad photos and a few lines of text anywhere in the world as real postcards (for US$1.50 each). I haven’t tried it yet and I’m not sure we’ll get much use out of it if we are blogging and updating everyone via Facebook etc. But it might be an alternative to buying postcards, writing them and then posting them when I get home because I couldn’t work out the postal systems of the places I visited!
  • TripAdvisor Offline City Guides (iPhone, free): This app lets us download TripAdvisor reviews, suggested itineraries, maps and other information for cities we visit. The good thing is that the app stores information locally on my iPhone so I don’t need wi-fi or 3G to access it. This is perfect because I will have data turned off to avoid data roaming charges.
  • XE Currency (iPhone and iPad, free): XE Currency converts currencies, either with live rates or with the last updated rates (which the app stored for when we don’t have an internet connection). This will come in handy when I’m trying to work out how much that scarf really costs in Liberty of London!


    XpenseTracker app

  • XpenseTracker (iPhone and iPad, $5.49): XpenseTracker is a fantastic app that allows me to record my expenses on the go. It keeps a running total of my expenses, divides them into different categories, lets me take photos of receipts (in case I lose them or just muddle them up), and when I get home, prints out a report. On my previous conference trips I didn’t know to request a paid-in-advance per diem, which meant I had to collect EVERY SINGLE RECEIPT and then claim it all back. So much work although made more palatable by this app! This trip I have a per diem, so now I just need to collect receipts for major items not covered by the per diem, such as taxis to and from the airport, hotel bills not yet paid by my university. So this app will be perfect to keep track. Highly recommended!
For the blog:
  • Photo Editor by Aviary (iPad, free): Aviary is a photo editing app. I read about this on a list of apps highly recommended for blogging on the go. It accesses photos from my iPad camera roll and lets me crop them, frame them, tidy or fancy them up with a range of photo editing tools. I can upload the photos to the iPad either from my iPhone or my Canon camera via the Apple Camera Connection Kit (just a couple of little plugs that slot into the charging port of the iPad). That way I don’t need wi-fi to transfer photos.
  • Blogsy (iPad, $5.49): Blogsy is another app I read about on the highly recommended list. It’s been called “the best blogging app on the iPad”. Whereas the WordPress app (below) seems to expect me to know html markup to write a blog post, Blogsy lets me write posts and insert images and links in a very simple visual GUI. I can then publish them to WordPress and Facebook.  

    Blogsy app

    Blogsy app

  • Frametastic, Photo Collage, Pic Joiner (iPhone and iPad, free): These apps let me combine two or more photos into a nice collage. This is great for posting multiple photos to the blog. I haven’t yet decided which app I like the best so I am trying a few as they all were free.
  • Native Camera and Photos apps (iPhone and iPad, free): I use the native Camera and Photos apps for taking photos. I’m sure there are fancier apps but these do fine.
  • Native Notes app (iPhone and iPad, free): I also use the native Notes app for taking notes, writing lists, recording important (but not confidential) information, jotting ideas for blog posts. The great thing is that I have my Notes synced to my Gmail account. So the Notes sync across my iPhone, iPad and Mac Book Pro.
  • WordPress (iPad, free): Finally, WordPress is the iPad app for WordPress blogs. It’s a bit tricky for writing new posts (I prefer to do it either in Blogsy, as above, or online on my Mac Book Pro). But this app is useful for making any small edits to posts (fixing crappy grammar) or moderating comments.

Most of these apps are free. Blogsy, GoodReader and XpenseTracker cost around $5.50 each but are good investments. Meeting Gold costs $10.49 but is excellent value for an app I use every work day. And Packing Pro is $2.99, but I’m not sure I would buy it again.

I hope these recommendations are useful!

What are your favourite travel or blogging apps?

PS I’ve downloaded Game of Thrones Season 1 and House of Cards Season 1 to watch while travelling. Any other suggestions?

Today I’ve finished writing two of my three conference talks, except for some fiddly error bars on the graphs for Talk 2. Here’s a preview …  Just one more (big) talk to write now before we fly.

Talk 1: A five minute special for the Social Aspects of Memory Pre-Conference Workshop in Rotterdam. I don’t think I’ve ever given a five minute talk before. It’s short. People who know me know that I have much more to say than five minutes worth.

The 5 minute talk for the Social Aspects of Memory Pre-Conference Workshop in Rotterdam

The 5 minute talk for the Social Aspects of Memory Pre-Conference Workshop in Rotterdam

Talk 2: A 12 minute talk in a symposium on Scaffolding Memory Across the Lifespan in the main SARMAC Conference program in Rotterdam. My talk is one of five themed talks so the trick is to make my talk relevant to the overall theme of the session as well as pick up on ideas that my colleagues might say in their papers (without being too repetitive). My talk is number four out of five, which means I will shallow breathe through three before it is my turn.

The 12 minute talk for our SARMAC symposium on Scaffolding Memory Across the Lifespan

The 12 minute talk for our SARMAC symposium on Scaffolding Memory Across the Lifespan