Scottish Summit 2023 - Experience

Scottish Summit 2023 - Experience

Yesterday it was Scottish Summit, which this year was on tour as it was held down in Manchester at UA92 I had submitted a talk for the conference but unfortunately it was not selected, however they did have an option to have the talk appear on YouTube the week before so it was possible to view How Sharing Can Make You a Better Developer there instead! This also had the benefit of freeing me to see another session I wouldn't have been able to so that was a positive way at looking at it! I made my plans to go which included going by train and staying overnight as it wasn't possible to get there in time from Gateshead in the North East to head South to the other North of Manchester.

Thanks to Bede they were able to cover my travel and accommodation, which they were happy to do after I'd booked everything but was really great to have that covered especially as had actually travelled up to Scotland for something else that week, so I really appreciated saving the expense of travelling to Scottish Summit! I started my journey by heading by Taxi from Gateshead to Newcastle Central Station for my train which I discovered went direct to Manchester, I'd not realised there were two main stations and I had booked to go to the other one and thought I'd have to change, I had a good knowledge of railways both further North of there to Scotland and further South to London but not Manchester it seems, but it did mean I could stay on the train.

View from Tram of Manchester

View from Tram of Manchester

View of Tram in Manchester

View of Tram in Manchester

View from Tram of Canal

View from Tram of Canal

Salford Quays Tram Stop

Salford Quays Tram Stop

My train from Newcastle arrived in Manchester and because I didn't need to change I arrived there a bit earlier than I had planned which was great, and upon arriving I headed for the Trams, I had downloaded the app for them so knew where they were but the platforms were lettered not numbered so was a bit confusing to find the one that would head to Cornbrook where I would change to Salford Quays but I spotted it and boarded with just seconds to spare before it headed off! It was amazing to see Manchester as I hadn't been there for years, I could see right away as I looked out the window of the Tram the level of investment in the area was immense, something that has only started to happen back further north in Newcastle / Gateshead! I arrived at the first stop to change to my next Tram, I found there were not many signs or maps but I had downloaded the app so it wasn't too bad as could use that, guess those living there are used to doing that too, I eventually boarded my tram to Salford Quays to head to my hotel for the night.

Quay West

Quay West

Bridge over Canal

Bridge over Canal

ITV Studios

ITV Studios

Coronation Street

Coronation Street

BBC Studios

BBC Studios

BBC Learn something new every day

BBC Learn something new every day

Pudsey

Pudsey

BBC Sport

BBC Sport

I arrived in Salford Quays and was amazing to see the canals and vast areas of open water alongside the Manchester Ship Canal and headed to my hotel to check in and then ventured out to have a small walk around the area outside of the hotel before going next door and getting something to eat. After that I decided to head for MediaCity UK as I had heard of that being there and wanted to check it out, I was not disappointed! It was amazing to see the bridges on the way as they reminded me of the bridges over the Tyne back home, I saw the ITV studios where the soap Coronation Street is filmed and could see the flat backs of the fa├žade of part of the set along with taller parts that could be seen from the canal. I also saw the BBC buildings on the other side of the canal and had a good look around the area, I was very impressed with what I saw, and the area was of course served by the Trams, and headed back to the hotel after having a good look around MediaCity UK and Salford Quays. However, that evening there would be some bad news, it seemed there was some overhead line issues in one of the areas I had passed just a few hours earlier on the way to Manchester and resulted in my train being cancelled, although the issue itself was resolved it remained cancelled so alternative plans were made to head back home on a bus instead!

Cornbrook Tram Stop

Cornbrook Tram Stop

Old Trafford Tram Stop

Old Trafford Tram Stop

UA92 Outside

UA92 Outside

UA92 Inside

UA92 Inside

Next morning after planning what sessions I was going to I headed next door to the hotel for breakfast and then headed back to the Tram as it was raining to head for Cornbrook and then to change to Old Trafford. I got off there and saw the cricket ground right next door and the football ground in the distance but in-between was the venue itself of UA92 and headed inside to pick up my badge and then looked around and spoke to some of the sponsors there before heading to my first session of the day, I wrote about all the sessions in my other article about Scottish Summit 2023 (link). It was great to see all the sessions and even changed one when one of the sponsors told me more about it, it was so popular in the end many including myself had to sit on the floor, every session was great with some sadly seeming too short and wanted to hear more with others being very informative along with helping with putting together my own talks in future!

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LEGO Grogu / Baby Yoda

LEGO Grogu / Baby Yoda

In the afternoon there was a football game going on that day at the stadium nearby and saw many crowds, so it was good that were not going be caught up that as the game would be finished well before the event would be! I had spoken to the sponsors that were downstairs but had missed the ones on the first floor so had a chance to speak to them and there was a competition to win a LEGO Grogu / Baby Yoda, which of course I entered! It was just before the last session of the day when the winner would be chosen so I went along and a few others who had entered joined me, the draw happened very quickly with the winner being selected, although I didn't win myself. After the prize draw I decided to head down stairs and bumped into one of my fellow prize draw entrants and they mentioned that there was also a cricket match going on that day too, and indeed looking outside started to see crowds heading for the Trams, I realised I might not make my bus home so had to head off and miss the last session, but I made it to the Tram stop but saw hundreds of people starting to queue up where I had just went through, so I had made the right choice and got on the tram to head for Shudehill where I would be getting my bus later.

Before heading for my bus, I went into the Trafford Centre to get something to eat, it was very busy being a Saturday and had to wait a while to get my food, the extra time I gained from leaving early meant I was able to do that, if not I'd have had to head for the bus right away. I then left and went to find where my bus would be leaving from which wasn't too far away, there were a few people there and a few buses going through until mine would appear. It was helpful they shouted which bus it was as there were no information screens to see which bus it was other than on the side or front of the bus, there was someone waiting for a bus and saw the one there head away - that one hadn't done an announcement and they had to run after it as it turned out it was the one they wanted to get on, luckily it had stopped at lights so they were able to board it quickly! That experience meant I made sure to check each bus carefully and make sure I was at the front so could get on and not miss mine either, thankfully there was no worry about that one as it was announced not only over the PA system but also in person so you couldn't miss it!

Getting the bus back long distance was the first time I had ever done that outside of a school trip to France, but I had a seat at the front and although there wasn't as much room as on a train it was comfortable and there would only be a few stops before I got home, in another turn of luck it stopped in Sunderland where there was a Metro stop, so decided to get off there instead of Newcastle and was able to make my way back home to Gateshead a little bit quicker that way! In going to and coming from Scottish Summit I had travelled by taxi, train, tram, bus, and Metro. I hadn't expected to almost get the full set of transport options but it turned out that way, it was a great opportunity to go especially to be surprised by the changes to Manchester, I would certainly want to go back there again and enjoyed the tram and thought if had something like that in Newcastle / Gateshead then it would be just as good, we of course had trams decades ago but just seeing that and knowing it helped contribute to the growth of the city, it would be good to see something like that back home, although we do have the Metro, it doesn't go everywhere!

Scottish Summit for me was a great learning experience, it will help me present my own talks better along with learning a few things that I think will be useful to know in the future, plus it was great to visit Manchester. I think there are a few ways things could have gone differently along and although had a few problems they could be overcome - I think that's the strength in any experience is to see the positive side of things and not dwell on the negative such as when things go wrong or are cancelled! Overall, it was a great couple of days to travel down, attend the sessions and come back with many new things I learned or experience at Scottish Summit!