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Cronin does Finland (& Denmark)

I am currently knockin' around in the north of Denmark. Birthplace of the meat sandwich and home of the man who wrote the ugly duckling. But most importantly, there's guinness everywhere.

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 07 April 2009

Location: Paris, France

Marathon no.2 is complete. I finished in 4:30, 20 minutes quicker than last time, which is odd because i seemed to have cramp most of the time, and was forced to walk a lot. The time is not particularly good, but if i was running marathons for good times i would've started about 15 years ago and drank considerably less beer in between. Bloody good laugh all round. We squeezed in 3 trips to the bar (2 before and 1 after the marathon) and saw a lot of the city, so it went well on all fronts. One of the boys had a friend there who took us to all the good bars and sights, and i also ran into an old friend from France at the expo before the race. This was lucky considering he wasn't even in the race and he was only there for a meeting. Apparently a French paper printed a special issue with all the marathon rankings, so he is sending me one in the post.

The French got almost everything right with the organisation, except they didn't give us any food containing much salt during the race, which meant that many of us ended up with cramp. In my case, i got it in both legs, which explains why i was walking fairly often. Other than that the atmosphere was brilliant. They even gave out cheese and wine at 38km, and cider at 40km. Neither of them helped me run faster but it was a nice touch that cheered me up for at least 10-12 seconds. Sadly another man close to me seemed to have been over zealous with the wine, and it reappeared just seconds after he crossed the finish line. I did the right thing and laughed/watched where i was walking.

As we went as a group of 4 and we all finished in under 5 hours, we did what all professionals do after a race: ate burgers and drank beer (I believe it's mentioned in Paula's book). None of us can walk properly now, and we only arrived home at 3am today (by which time i had a mysterious cut on my hand), but we are already planning the next trip....maybe Buenos Aires, Argentina.

None of us have been there and it makes sense to get some exercise if we're going all that way.

Monday, 01 December 2008

Location: Australia


I've just returned from the land down under, finally achieving my long-term dream of going there. I learnt many things over the course of the last few weeks, but perhaps the most important was that the baggage handlers at Heathrow airport are about the most incompetent on the planet.

We arrived in Sydney at about 8pm local time after 32 hours of travelling, only to find that our luggage hadn't followed us, nor was there any record of its whereabouts. It only took them 3 days to locate it and return it to us-quite astonishing since the bags were labelled and you would expect these people to have seem luggage before. By the time we got them i had been to the same shopping centre 3 times to keep buying new clothes-One of the women who worked there must've assumed i didn't own any underwear because i was her best customer. On the up side, Qantas gave us some cash as compensation.

On the way home, we encountered the most bizarre trip of all. Firstly, we were held up in Sydney for over an hour due to a drunk man who had to be removed by the police-Typically Australian but very annoying. Then there was a thunder storm that cost another hour. After finally leaving Sydney, we were supposed to fly to Bangkok (Thailand) but we were unable to do so because of civil unrest, so we were instead diverted to Singapore. This part of the trip took about 9 hours.

Then we left Singapore and flew towards London, but unfortunately we had to make an emergency landing in Frankfurt because a female passenger had a heart attack. After 2 hours of medical attention, the woman died on the plane, and a few hundred people witnessed her body being placed into a hearse. Fortunately by this point i hadn't slept for 2 days so it didn't really sink in.

We finally left towards London (4 hours late) and naturally missed the connecting flight back to Helsinki because of the delay. We were placed on the next flight and landed in Helsinki after approximately 36 hours of travelling (and about 1 hour of sleeping). We then waited for the luggage to be returned, only to find that they had managed to lose it again. Of course by this time we had missed the next bus home.

Alas, we finally got home and the luggage has now been returned, so all is well. As for the holiday, the last 2 weeks were among the most memorable of my life. I saw crocs, koalas, the Great Barrier Reef and the almighty outback amongst other things.

I will definitely be going back in the future, but if at all possible, i will give Heathrow a swerve.

Here is a sample of my holiday snaps:

Thursday, 02 October 2008

Location: Denmark

No niin. I'm back from Japan, and with very mixed feelings. After travelling around quite intensively, i was ready for the return leg at the end of the trip. However, the Japanese were so ridiculously hospitable to me that it was always going to be a difficult place to leave.

Japan is a completely crazy country but i am firmly of the opinion that everyone should go there, just to see quite how surreal it is with their own eyes. I managed to see quite a lot by using the Shinkansen 'Bullet' trains to get around. Easily the best form of public transport on the planet.

I have added a few pictures but as it takes so long, here are the links to my photos on facebook:





Wednesday, 27 August 2008

So here i am again in Copenhagen- Home of the pig, vast quantities of coffee and as i discovered the other day- sex shops. I arrived on Sunday night and went looking for my hotel, and by the time i found it, i assumed there was some mistake. Virtually every building in the street was a sex shop or strip club, and the streets were quite literally lined with prostitutes. It didn't take me long to realise that the reason they were all saying 'hello' to me was not that they were all exceptionally polite young ladies who happened to be standing outside at 10pm.

Anyway, i have added the marathon photos. It is unfortunate that they don't quite convey the pain i was feeling in my legs at the time. The strange thing about marathon running is that you spend most of the race wishing you were at the finishing line, and when you actually cross it you realise that you are still in complete agony. Although i spent the last 15km telling myself i will never run anywhere again, i have decided to continue running half marathons for the foreseeable future, with an outside chance of running the full London marathon at some point.

If my knees give up on me, i will instead buy an electric wheelchair and a few duracell batteries and do the marathon in that. I think it would be considerably easier.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Location: Portugal

Well well. I have just returned from a very eventful conference in Estoril. In highlight form:

-I gave my presentation last Wednesday and was then selected in the top 10 for the Young Investigator's competition
-Because i was in the top 4, i had to present again on Saturday in the main auditorium in front of everyone
-I came 2nd, collected a nice check for €3000 and went off to celebrate
-There was then some controversy because quite a few people said i should've won-The supervisor of the guy who came 4th said it was 'a joke', which was nice (for me, not so much for the winner)
-A guy in my hotel said it was 'an absolute disgrace' and that he was going to write to the board of directors to complain about the fact that i didn't win, which was again nice
-When i arrived at Lisbon airport to go home, my plane got delayed by 2 hours, which meant i missed my connecting flight to Helsinki. The kind woman in Frankfurt got me on a later flight, which eventually landed in Helsinki at 1:20am
-Unsurprisingly, the airline lost my luggage, although i only discovered this after waiting in baggage reclaim for 40 minutes, missing my bus home
-After giving them my details, i waited a further 2 hours, then got the next bus home, which took another 4 hours
-I then cycled home from the train station at about 8am, meaning that travelling from Lisbon to Jyväskylä took about 22 hours
-This is only 1 hour less than the time it will take me to get to Sydney in November. Impressive

Nonetheless, i'm still about €2900 in profit, so i won't complain too loudly. The congress organizers took some photos of the prize winners so i will add those later on.

Now i think that sleep might be in order

Friday, 25 April 2008

Having carried around some extra christmas weight with me (for about 3 years), i recently decided to do something about it. As i've never been one to do things by halves, i have decided to register myself to run a marathon. So far training is going well, and i'm delighted to learn that i'm actually not too old to run on a regular basis (yet).

Fortunately i have a few marathon experts in my corner in Finland, so i'm looking forward to being tortured into shape when i return there in a few weeks.

I haven't decided on a marathon yet, but i've narrowed it down to Helsinki, Athens or Oslo, all of which are towards the end of this year.

Now i just need to choose a charity to run for and i'm back in the game.


Monday, 31 March 2008

Location: Finland

No niin...I have just returned from the wintry climes of Lapland, and will be remaining in Finland for the rest of the week.

The rest of the year looks something like this: back to Denmark for 6 weeks, then Finland again, then Portugal, France and England in quick succession but not necessarily in that order, Finland again, Denmark again, Washington in October, England for christmas, and finally Australia to round off the year. There's also a possible outing to California in August...I think it's a safe bet that this year will be my first experience of lost luggage.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Location: Denmark

Approximately 40 days into the year and so far i have spent most of it in a lab. Another month and that will hopefully be over, as it would be nice to see the sun at some point.

Last week i was briefly in Finland, and while i was there i managed to appear in a film about research that was made for Japanese TV. It involves a comparison of jumping technique between me and the olympic high jump champion, Stefan Holm...he may have just edged it on the technical front.

Fortunately the Japanese film crew gave me some chopsticks and curry for taking part, so even if the olympic champion is a better jumper than me (!), at least i don't need to pay for dinner for a while. The joke is clearly on him.

Two presentations this week:

We have also planned to run experiments on 8 subjects this week...

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Location: Denmark

I am having some difficulties uploading photos at the moment, so I will put more on later. In any case, most of them are of our latest measurements so they are probably not as exciting for the general public as they are for me.

So far I have measured 12 of the 50 people that I intend to over the next 7 weeks. On the plus side, i will publish an additional 5 papers based on the data we collect, and of course, I will use some of it to squeeze in a few conference trips (also known as holidays) in the meantime.

The first of which is in Lisbon in July and I booked my hotel yesterday...100m from the beach.

I can't throw to save my life but even for me that's a stone's throw away...

Saturday, 05 January 2008

Location: Denmark

So here we are again. After approximately 9 months in Finland (with about 4 visits to Denmark mixed in) I am back in Aalborg on a semi-permanent basis.

After a 2 hour airport delay I arrived with the worst plane landing in history, and for a short time actually believed we might crash to a halt rather than the conventional method of using the brakes. To be honest, it would've been a welcome distraction from the crying infant sat immediately next to me, whose mother insisted on elbowing me at every opportunity for no apparent reason.

When we finally got off the plane it was snowing, and it has been ever since. Although i wasn't immediately bowled over by my new accommodation, it has progressively grown on me throughout the day and now i actually quite like it. Add to this the fact that the internet worked at the very first attempt, and i really can't complain. Earlier i met my room-mate with whom i share a bathroom & fridge: Fabio from Brazil. Very convenient as he shares a name with the England manager. Seems like an absolute legend so far, and he told me i can use anything i like, even his food. He may regret saying that after a few days...

Despite the conspicuous lack of a sauna, i am fairly satisfied with my first 15 hours here. Tomorrow I, an Englishman, intend to go and find an Irish pub in the north of Denmark, and quietly continue studying with my Finnish book. Just to be different.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Location: Denmark

It has come to my attention that i haven't written on here for a while so i decided to correct this in writing from the 7th floor of a B&B in Copenhagen. I arrived yesterday afternoon, and within about 10 minutes of getting off the plane, i was on a train that stopped a few minutes from where i'm staying. When i got to the place, i met potentially the most hospitable B&B owner on the planet. As no one needs my room until Monday, he said i can stay as long as i want today for free. All very Scandinavian so far. Earlier i walked along the coastline and bumped into a friend of mine from Aalborg who is here for the same course ( I would have been quite surprised to see someone i know in such a big place, however, yesterday i saw 2 friends in Tampere before leaving Finland, and last night i saw a professor i know here in Copenhagen. Either i am very popular or it is indeed a small world. I'm inclined to believe the latter.

Tonight i am heading to 'Europe's biggest designer hostel' to meet my friends, where we will be staying for the next week (Although i am going to Aalborg for one day in between). Apparently it's a 5 star hostel.

Now i must return to my lunch of roast beef sandwiches, and my extraordinary view of Copenhagen.


Saturday, 02 June 2007

Photos from our graduation:

ECSS programme:

There are nearly 2000 presentations at this congress and by chance, mine is right after my old supervisor from London does his. I absolutely can't wait.

But i probably will

Tuesday, 03 April 2007

3 months on and i still love Finland

Friday, 30 March 2007

Location: Denmark

Moving back to Finland tomorrow with mixed feelings...

Things i will miss: sandwiches, danish people, bacon, the irish house, all of my friends, free beer and cake

Things i won't miss: Salami Susan

Things i look forward to: sauna, lakes, finns, not having to try and sleep whilst listening to Mary the meat lover on the phone to her suppliers

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Location: Denmark

Took part in another study today. This one mostly involved walking over an uneven surface, followed by a series of injections. The idea is that you record normal trials, give the injections to block sensation in the foot, then repeat the trials. Unfortunately, the first set of 10 injections (plus 2 failed attempts) didn't work sufficiently, so i had to have a few more. After that, the block still wasn't complete so we couldn't do the other trials. What this means is, i didn't need to have the injections in the first place...

If i can't walk in the morning there'll be trouble.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Location: Denmark

Not content with having taken over the fridge, dented the Danish economy due to excess meat consumption, and ordered the rest of the house to pay for a new kettle, Salami McTalksfartoomuch has decided that we need a cleaning schedule.

I have just been downstairs having a good chuckle over her allocation of jobs to people. Next weekend for instance, i have been assigned to clean the 'Hall'. This will be followed by 'bathroom 1' and then 'bathroom 2' over the next 2 weeks.

The joke is of course on her. I'm not here next weekend and i'm leaving in 3 weeks, and Shuhao-li (one of the Chinese boys) is leaving a few days after me.

We have both agreed that it would be far funnier not to tell her

Friday, 09 March 2007

Location: Denmark

Salami lady, aka Suzie McTalkstoomuch is in the kitchen giving the rest of the house a lecture on how unfair it is that other countries are 'stealing Poland's fishes'. It's probably just the Danish government looking for salami compensation.

If i was a Polish fish i would search for the nearest shark and beg it to eat me.

Wednesday, 07 March 2007

Location: Denmark

Greatest guitarist of all time. Even better than Clapton, although it hurts to admit it.
I'm seeing this guy in Tampere in May. I have hardly slept since i booked the ticket, which was nearly a week ago. Obviously i'm hoping this effect wears off before the gig.

In other news, my first study plan has been approved. Should be measuring in April so i am looking for subjects in Jyväskylä with good leg muscles and strong reflexes...

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Recent Messages

Congrats! Be proud of you!
From grace
hi neil,
Sorry to say that i couldn't get a penny of him . Hope that it's warming up out there , I can tell you that its not warming up out here . The fall of the bike didn't sound to nice. Hope your are having a great time living out there . the pics are wonderful you made me laugh on the stokholm-sweden with the mums, blody hope not . (neils words not mine) . keep them comig .
take care
p.s. how much have u put towards your rachel fund (lol)
Response: umm. Grace swore on the internet
From jordan
hi how you doing i was just wondering if we could insert pictures on to these messages.
Response: Probably not, but you can send them to my e-mail:
Then at least i can see them...
hi neil hope you are keeping well and not too cold.
whats finland like are you enjoying living there?
have been trying to look at your pictures but for some reason cannot get them.
will keep trying.

take care
wendy steve scott stevie and lucy x x x

Response: I am indeed enjoying it. Slightly colder than essex but i've got used to it now. Hope everybody is well at your end. Thanks for the cards and money by the way. I'm using the money to fund my 1st ski-ing trip this week. x
From jordan
hi bruv ows it goin out dere is it like a freezer and by die way apy b day ope u ad a wicked 1.
Response: It is a bit like a freezer actually..but of course without all the food. That would just be silly. Happy birthday for tomorrow mate. Have a good one
From grace
hello neil , hows Finland?Hope you had a great birthday .The pics are great , Jordans bday is tomorow and we are all going to him for cash .
love grace
Response: Finland is superb m'lady, thanks for asking. If you do manage to get any money out of him, send some my way. I will put it towards my Rachel fund. x x
From rob g
happy birthday.
From mum and dad
Response: See. Legends
From Rob g
hey dude finaly got the computor to work and get your link needed a gentle tap with a swift left but working now.hope all is well.looked at the pics looks like the burnham drinking rep in finland is doing well. stay cool dude will be in touch. Latter
Response: Cheers mate. Expect more drinking pictures soon
From Carly
Did you get my msg i posted? Hmmmm not sure this works! Stupid machine!
Response: Yep. Don't worry. Took me a while to figure it out as well. I thought people's messages would just appear...
From Carly :o)
So... Icicles on your eyelashes hey!! WOW! You are hardcore these days.

Hope your well my lovely, great to hear from you!!
Tell me about it Miss Dodd with her 44%, Purgh!! England at the mo is 4 degrees. No way near as bad as -32!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But still bloody cold!
How long are you out there for? Whats your address so that i can send you p*rn and stuff! Just kidding, so i can send your bday card! haha

Speak soon my luvvie and Take care in the cold! Keep wearing your thermols!! hehehheheeh ;o)))
Response: Carlsberg. Bonjour. It's been a while. I was reminiscing just the other day about our comical train adventures. I'm supposed to be here for another year and a half but it might be longer. My address is: Roninmäentie 23C 1G, Jyväskylä, 40500, Finland. I will be waiting by the letterbox for your card. Speak to you soon mon sweet
From Danny Barber
"Oi Oi" Big fella..!!!
Hows it going bro.?
Good to hear from again mate.
Glad to hear Finland is all going well and your enjoying your self.!
I still think it would be more lively if i was to attend..!!!
So just give me the nod and i'll be there. By the way i'm still fat and un-fit but........
My girlfriend who i LIVE WITH.!! Have both just joined the gym so I'll be nice and slim again soon.....!!!
When you coming back to England.?
Perhaps well meet up when you do and have a good old drink and remeness on the good old times..!
I enjoy a good beer every now and then..!

Speak to you soon treacle..!!

Response: Alright son!!!! aahs tricks? Good to hear you've kept your fuller figure. Living with a girlfriend? You?? You sure? I don't think Finland is ready for you, but get out here anyway. It's been a while since i've seen a good fight...Good to hear from you mate
From Pops
Evening Boyzy. Hope exams go well tomorrow.
I'm told It's dangerous to breath in the air when it's around -20's & 30's whilst cycling. If you 'pass out' and fall in the snow, you may not get up again. Same applies to when you're pi##ed. Just be careful.
Response: No worries. I'm 'ard
From G
Well played Frosty,

I'm off to clean my boots for football and look @ flights again...might look for ones around your birthday.

Riga is also on the agenda - think Ryan Air have some ridiculously cheap flights at the moment.

Response: Riga is large. If you're good, i'll let you pay for my flight
From Alex Nevermind
You said we would meet at xmas...(top of the list I think)...whats the matter did you lose your list? Did a reindeer eat it? Or did you get home and when your brain thawed out you realised what a tosser I am and thought, 'nah, actually I won't bother' ? I'm not bitter.
Response: Sorry mate. All of the above. Nah, my parents surprised me with a holiday so i had fewer days for schmoozing with the locals. Get a cheap ryanair flight and we'll hit it hard. I love you