Thursday, May 22


Lydia, Glynn's sister, works as a translator in Barcelona - which is where she met Eduard (Edu), a spaniard who asked her to marry him. Hence, Glynn and I travelled to Europe for a few weeks to attend their wedding in Spain, with some sightseeing included.

It was lovely to meet the Parker-Hills (the Irish Aussies) for the first time when we arrived in Barcelona, and we caught a tour bus together around the city. Glynn's parents, Lydia and Edu joined us the next day and we all enjoyed a meal together at a Spanish version of the chipper - amazing selection of seafood cooked to your liking. The gothic architecture of Gaudi dominates the city, especially the Sagrada Familia, which we stopped to admire one morning eating the traditional jamon (pronounced hamon) and cheese pastry for breakfast. Its already extraordinary even though its not complete, due to be finished sometime in 2026.

Over the two days we explored the city and kept heading back to Los Ramblos to enjoy getting lost in the atmosphere of the narrow maze of alleyways with shops and cobblestoned piazza's. A highlight was La Boqueria Mercat - a vast food market with stalls of fruit, sausage, jamon, seafood, bread and chocolates. The next day Glynn and I bought some goodies from the Mercat and wandered up to the Gaudi Park overlooking the city for a picnic lunch.

Leading up to the wedding family and friends had gathered at the venue at Hotel Figuerola, near the small village of Vandellos in the hills about two hours south of Barcelona by train. The irish and spanish hoards had booked the hotel for the weekend of the wedding and it was a great arrangement to all be staying in the same place for a few days so we could enjoy catching up with everyone (including a short round of non-competitive pitch and putt).

Edu - Lydia's husband, loves Spain, he is very passionate about the culture, his family and a big fan of the food and wine - and I can now understand why. The day before the wedding we had a large meal with Edu's family and the immediate Foster clan about 45 minutes by car from Vandellos in a small spanish village made of white limestone in the middle of rice fields. The village was built by General Franco to house workers he brought over from from Italy to work in the rice fields. Main courses of paella followed a series of delicious starters including everything from octopus, eel, snails and squid.

In Spain you eat your main meal in the middle of the day. Traditionally, all the shops close at around 1pm for lunch and a siesta in the afternoon reopening around 4 or 5pm. Dinner is a light meal eaten anytime from around 8.30pm till late. It took little effort for Glynn and I to adapt to this new eating and sleeping schedule, as with the jetlag we were sleeping and feeling hungry at strange times anyway.

On the day of the wedding Lydia looked beautiful and Edu very handsome. Thanks to Duncan for some of these photos I've included and he's posted more great photos of the wedding here. The vows were taken in Spanish but the ceremony transcended language and everyone understood the distinctive parts of the service. The reception was a colourful, musical fiesta, with four kegs of guinness shipped in by the hotel for the irish contingent - and they drank it all! During the meal there was music and traditional calls for the bride and groom to kiss each other, and then the parents of the newlyweds, with lots of napkin waving in between. The food was amazing and the cake was brought out in a darkened room with sparklers and more music.

In Spain they give the gift of money and the challenge is to give it in the most original manner possible. For example, one time Lydia gave her friends euros screwed up inside walnuts they had broken in two, emptied and glued back together. For Edu and Lydia their friends gave them a puzzle which once they had completed was turned over to reveal a code which opened a locked box of money.

In another tradition Edu and Lydia danced around the room and then stopped in front of a couple to give a gift of two dolls holding hands. That couple turned out to be us and once the gift and kisses and hugs were exchanged in front of the entire room of people to applause we found out that the gift tradition is given to the couple most likely to be married next!!! A bit of fun to end a really enjoyable wedding and something very different to the kiwi variety - congratulations Lyd and Edu!

Friday, May 2

Unlimited Potential Event: Tale of Four Cities

Trying to start up your own global web business isn't easy - trying to start it up from Wellington also has its challenges, but its inspiring to see young start up companies going global from the harbour city. There is a definite web startup culture in Wellington that differs from anywhere else I have been in the country. I often think it's comparable to the coffee culture that pervades the city. The good-hearted nature of the local coffee houses that means additions to the coffee community are often celebrated because it all helps to foster the culture.

Attracting highly skilled staff and making sure we educate young people about the benefits of getting into IT are all part of ensuring the creativity that's going on the capital continues to grow. What do current highly skilled immigrants of the IT variety think of living and working in New Zealand? What keeps them here? How can we attract more young ruby developers over to New Zealand? How can we attract young kiwis back from overseas?

Unlimited Potential and the Wellies (a group of 'expats' who have moved here from overseas and chosen to settle in Wellington) are hosting an event on Tuesday night next week - called the Tale of Four Cities. Its a relaxed panel discussion over pizza and beer about why ICT professionals from overseas are settling in Wellington, what brings them here, what they enjoy about living in the city, and what makes them want to stay?

Hosted by Colin Jackson the panelists include Adam Shand who was born in England but grew up moving back and forth between New Zealand and California. He spent three years in Alaska working for one of the largest ISPs in North America and while in Oregon he founded Personal Telco, a non-profit which worked with local communities to provide free wireless internet access to the public. Five years ago he chose to move back to Wellington undertaking a mixture of management and technical work, as current digital operations manager for Weta Digital.

Professor Mark J. Ahn, PhD. is Professor and Chair, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship with a joint appointment from the faculties of Commerce & Administration and Science, at Victoria University of Wellington. The role of the Chair is to focus efforts for research to build understanding of scientific entrepreneurship in international and national settings, and the processes required to enable successful commercialization of science and technology-based innovations. Would love to hear Professor Ahn's views about settling in New Zealand from a personal perspective as well as his views about the capital.

John Clegg CEO of ProjectX and co-founder of zoomin, was involved in the Google Summer of Code initiative, and has worked in on startups in London, Asia, India, and Australia. John is passionate about fostering local talent - in a ProjectX Press release he says - "We are totally committed to getting talented young people working in this city and we are dedicated to making this city a Mecca for technology graduates from all over New Zealand."

When: Tuesday, 6 May 2008 - 5.30pm - 8.30pm
Where: Syn Bar, 4 Bond Street, Wellington

You can RSVP here. Come along and enjoy the pizza and beer, join in audience discussion and mix and mingle with "the wellies".