High table at Andrew Melville Hall

Andrew Melville Hall

Last night I did something I’ve not done in fifteen years: I had dinner at a University of St Andrews hall of residence.

Pizza express

Rewinding a few hours, I had just finished a lunchtime presentation about website statistics and customising our search engine when I was standing chatting with someone and nibbling on the left-overs from lunch.

I shouldn’t have one last mini pizza, I thought to myself … but they’re just so tasty. So I indulged.

I bit into the pizza, and it exploded a massive dollop of tomato sauce all the way down my new Fat Face jumper. D’oh!

They do say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, twenty minutes after my free lunch I was the proud owner of a new, identical Fat Face jumper that cost me £40.

But at least I now wouldn’t have to turn up to Andrew Melville Hall looking like a pizza filling.

High table

Last week I was invited by the Warden of Andrew Melville Hall — Mr Steve Yorkstone, an alumnus of this fine University no less — to attend High Table and speak for five minutes on a topic of my choice.

What happens is the Warden invites up to twenty students (two turned up!) to meet before dinner in the Upper Common Room for sherry and convivial chat, before sitting at high table in the refectory and retiring once again to the Upper Common Room for port and a five minutes chat with that evening’s guest, usually about his or her role in the University, what they do, their take on the University and … stuff!

So I took along our information architecture diagram — it’s about 7 feet long! — which got some folks excited as they’d never had a proper “show and tell” before, with props and everything, and I spoke about the website redesign project.

It was great fun, I absolutely loved it. It was great to get real, face-to-face feedback from students about the website — what they find useful, what they’d like to see.

I talked about how the project ran, what I do, where we’re going next with the website, what I love about my job and then, courtesy of the Warden who’d clearly been cyber-stalking me, we moved onto the number of Amazon books I’d reviewed and my involvement in Join Me.

It turns out that I’m a part of Join Me Top Trumps, which I didn’t know about.

After about an hour or so of chat, laughter and general, controlled geekery the evening was over and I retired to view the Warden’s flat on the top floor of the hall. He has a balcony, a very cool study and a tube that leads from his washer-dryer machine and pokes out of the window.

I know! All the mod-cons.

Having spent my first and fourth years in David Russell Hall (of fond memory), I never realised what good fun could be had in Andrew Melville Hall! 😉 A highly recommended evening.