Last week I was honoured to attend the funeral of a man who was 102 when he died. I had last seen him when he was a mere 99, just before the pandemic broke out. We both belonged to our local debating society, and I liked to hear how he was getting on and what he was up to. He had led the most amazing life. He was a war veteran and had escaped capture on two occasions, one time in Italy and another in Germany. You can read more about his adventures here.

At the debating society he sat quietly and listened to the debates as much as he could (he had become rather deaf) and had also lost most of his sight. He has four daughters, three of whom lived nearby and took it in turns to bring him to the society. He had many grandchildren and great grandchildren. The photo above reminds me of him as his family meant everything. He was a truly lovely man.

The debating society has stopped running, partly due to the pandemic, partly because we could no longer meet in the room we had been using and partly because the membership had declined. This is a shame as I always thought of us as a family of very diverse people – from all walks of life, with different politics and with ages that ranged from about 16 to 99. Before joining the society I had never spent much time with anyone whose political views were different to mine. Now I’ve spent a lot of time with people with political views across the spectrum. I like debating as it forces me to think much more deeply about my views.


EuroCity (EC) 102 Polonia

Typical German Train – c/o

This blog is so new that it is still taking shape and developing week by week. I think I’d like this middle section to give me the opportunity to write about the three things that I’m most passionate about in addition to numbers. Those things are food (oh yes!), travelling and cycling. This week’s post has all three.

Each week I will try and use the number from the first section to take me on a journey somewhere in the world. I’ve used various approaches – the heights of mountains, the heights of skyscrapers, the distance between cities. Last week I wrote about a whole continent due to the number of countries it contains. This week I will write about a train: it is called the EuroCity (EC) 102 Polonia and goes from Vienna to Warsaw. Polonia is the Latin name for Poland. The trip takes over 12 hours and, fortunately, the train has a dining car! From YouTube videos of the route doesn’t look very exciting.

I am drawn to both Vienna and Warsaw as they both score highly in terms of food and cycling. They also have much to see in terms of two of my favourite composers, Mozart in Vienna and Chopin in Warsaw.

I will start with food in Vienna. This article provides twenty suggestions of food that should be tried in Vienna. I would definitely want to try the sausage and the plum tarts. Hopefully Howard, my husband, would get the wiener-schnitzel and I could try a little bit (I believe it’s veal and I’m not entirely comfortable with this). Potato goulash sounds great too. In fact everything on the list is worth a try: I wasn’t aware that Vienna had so many wonderful dishes on offer. Overall I prefer savoury dishes to sweet.

Then, where would we stay? Given the choice I’d like to stay in the centre where we can walk out to things easily. The apps Vrbo, Airbnb and are all useful. I used and chose to go from Tuesday 6th September to Tuesday 13th September. I chose September as the summer in the UK has passed at this time and Tuesday as travelling can be cheaper mid-week. I’d have to investigate this further. I filtered on accommodation that was:

  • 3 star (I don’t want to pay for more but less wouldn’t be good enough)
  • Customer rating: at least 4 star (or 8)
  • At least 10 customer reviews (one or two don’t provide me with enough confidence)
  • Free cancellation up to a month before we go
  • Near public transport as we don’t want to hire a car
  • A private bathroom (I reckon I’m too old to share a bathroom)
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Available for our dates (it’s irritating if it’s not)

I sorted these results (15 in total) from lowest to highest price.

I settled on the Admiral Hotel which is £459 for the week. There were cheaper options but they either hadn’t many reviews or they had reviews that worried me – eg poor cleanliness.

Vienna sounds very bike-friendly. I would love to ride along the Danube and to see the city from the road. Cyclists are catered for all over the city with bike hire places and cycle lanes. More details here.

Vienna is famous for its connections with Mozart and I’d like to see Mozart’s apartment from 1784 and 1787 which has been restored to its original condition and the Mozart monument. I’d also like to visit the Mozart Haus which is a museum dedicated to his time in Vienna and his music.

I will now move onto food in Warsaw and I used this article as a guide. Some of the meaty dishes didn’t appeal. But I’d love to try the soups Borsch, Żurek and Chłodnik. I’ve had pierogis before but would love to try more. The cakes sound lovely too.

I searched for accommodation using in exactly the same way as I did above for Vienna to find somewhere to stay for the dates September 13th – 20th. I chose the old town as I thought this would be interesting. The place that came out top looked fine but it only had three reviews. The next one down cost £45 more in total but had well over a thousand reviews and was rated very highly. So £289 for a week – well under £50 a night. The place is called Vienna House Mokotow Warsaw.

It turns out the composer, Chopin, spent half his life in Warsaw. I would look forward to seeing the museum and monument dedicated to him. As with Vienna,

Warsaw is a cycle-friendly city and there are many bike lanes and hire points. You can see more here.

Semiperfect Numbers

102 is a semiperfect number. A semiperfect number is one where either all of its proper divisors (ie those that are not equal) add up to that number (or some of them do).

A semiperfect number where all the proper divisors add up to the number exactly is a perfect number.

The first few semiperfect numbers are: 6, 12, 18, 20, 24, 28, 30, 36, 40 and so on

For example:

The proper divisors of 20 are 1, 2, 4, 5, 10

And 1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 10 = 22

However, 1 + 4 + 5 + 10 = 20

Thus 20 is semiperfect but not perfect.

The proper divisors of 6 are 1, 2, 3

And 1 + 2 + 3 = 6

Thus 6 is a perfect number.

The proper divisors of 102 are 1, 2, 3, 6, 17, 34 and 51

And 1 + 2 + 3 + 6 + 17 + 34 + 51 = 114

However, 17 + 34 + 51 = 102

Thus 102 is a semiperfect number.

In addition 102 is a harshad number covered in this earlier post and a sphenic number covered in this post.

Last Thoughts

My fellow debater has led me on a journey through Europe, albeit a virtual one. I hope to take this train one day and to think of him as I travel.