Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health

A trailblazing approach to mental health by Forestry Commission Scotland and local health boards is seeing service users go on activity-filled woodland walks

For Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network I have covered Branching Out, a programme run by Forestry Commission Scotland that uses the theraputic powers of woodland to help groups of mental health patients. Since it was launched in Glasgow in 2007, it has spread to most of the NHS boards in Scotland. Continue reading “Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health”

Art in Amsterdam article for Railbookers All Aboard magazine

Railbookers, the rail specialist travel agency, publishes a magazine called All Aboard. I have an article in the latest issue on art in Amsterdam, based on a trip just over a year ago which I wrote about for Beacon.

I focused on two galleries. One, the Rijksmuseum, is the obvious choice – although that doesn’t make it any less brilliant, particularly following its recent renovations. The other is less well-known, and is happy to be so given it only has capacity for a handful of visitors each day: the Six Collection, situated in the Six family’s grand house on the Amstel.

Continue reading “Art in Amsterdam article for Railbookers All Aboard magazine”

Ada Lovelace, culture and computing

Last month, I attended some of Oxford University’s Ada Lovelace symposium, celebrating her 200th anniversary. The Register has just published my article on this, focusing on her cultural impact.

It was fascinating to hear that Lovelace had considered computing’s cultural impact, such as idea that machines could generate music. But it’s only since the 1970s that she has become a cultural figure herself, particularly in fiction. Continue reading “Ada Lovelace, culture and computing”

Journalism moment of 2015: visiting a warehouse in Swindon

For me, the best thing about being a journalist is getting the chance to investigate and learn new things. My favourite articles in 2015 were ones where I got to do this. For Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network I found out about the data used to track the health of people in cities, and then the big issues that will affect urban health over the next few decades. (And I mapped them – below.) Continue reading “Journalism moment of 2015: visiting a warehouse in Swindon”

Genomics and big data; and I ♥ Milton Keynes

I attended a recent conference run by the Sanger Institute and supplier DDN on genomics and big data, which involved a visit to the Sanger’s famous laboratories and data centre. Genomics could produce between two and 40 exabytes of data annually by 2025; astronomy, which churns out data, is expected to produce just one exabyte. A decent-sized PC hard-drive holds a terabyte of data, roughly a million megabytes; an exabyte is roughly a million terabytes. A lot. The resulting article for is here.

The massive scale of genomics data is forcing those providing its IT to rediscover old efficiency techniques. It is also seeing institutions working to upgrade their facilities. This includes University of Oxford, which is working on a new Big Data Institute near the city’s hospitals in Headington. Continue reading “Genomics and big data; and I ♥ Milton Keynes”