Saturday, 10 December 2016

Lincoln & Loughborough

More work travels...

Last week I went to Loughborough for a couple of days to kick off my visiting Fellowship there. A very good trip, I met with a few staff and several students in my old department and we have quite a few bits of research lined up for the coming months. I stayed in the Holywell Guest House, just around the corner from the house we lived in for a couple of years and well worth a visit! I managed to catch up with a couple of friends too. The return journey wasn't so great (a slight delay to the third train of four meant missing the last one and being bumped onto a much later replacement bus - boooo!) but overall a good trip.

Nice digs.

We parked in that space the year before moving the Loughborough. Seven years ago!

Some most welcome Rich teas to finish the day.
The past couple of days I have been away again, this time in Lincoln, to meet with the various partners in the TRANSIT project (the one to do with airports). The only other time I've been there was to clean the car after Naomi had a nasty sickness bug so this visit was almost guaranteed to be better. The town is quite nice and the other people on the project are very good to work with so again a pleasant trip. We had some good discussions about how best to work together, and quite a lot of use of flipcharts and post-it notes. Lots of work to do on this one too!

The view from my hotel room was perhaps not the best

Did you know that Lincoln was the birthplace of the tank? Me neither.
That's the University of Lincoln in the background by the way.

The cathedral and old town are quite pretty

as is their marina
There will be quite a few more short trips like these over the coming months. It's not getting any easier being away from everyone :(

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


The girls had two in service days last week and we were very happy that Sandy was able to take one of them off to spend with us.  It was only our council that was off so we decided to venture just a little bit further for a fun day so that things would be quieter with most children still being in school.

Granny and Grandad had given the girls some money for their birthdays so we could go somewhere fun and we decided to go to the aquarium at Loch Lomond Shores, in Balloch (which happens to be a place that Sandy and I went on holiday many years ago).

The girls had a brilliant time, Lydia loved looking at all the "FISH!!!!" and the older two had a great time exploring and we were more relaxed about it because there weren't so many people there that we couldn't see them.

Here's some pictures of our very cold (-5 on the way over!) and foggy day.

We finished the day with a cake and drink, the way any great day ends
The day was fantastic and we all (apart from Sandy who was driving) fell asleep in the car on the way home!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Baby IV

Well, only two years have passed so it seemed time to have another baby. Now we'll have to get a bigger boat!

Exciting times ahead :) Here are some obligatory scan pictures...

Miriam is four!

Although she's been so excited about it, it feels like she's been four for months.

 We started the morning with some very excited present opening.

A thoughtful Grandma had also sent a couple of small presents for Naomi and Lydia to open so they didn't feel left out!

One of the sweetest things was this present. Naomi decided that she wanted to buy her sister a present, and volunteered her own tooth fairy pennies to buy it!

Then it was off to NURSERY! One of the best places one can spend a day.

On returning home it was time to play with all those new toys...

Yes, a light-up My Little Pony.
To much of the time, our house is now plunged
into darkness so we can bask in its glory.

This is really neat - basically, Kerplunk Game but with monkeys instead of marbles.
Their curly tails get caught on the sticks so it's a bit more interesting!

We conclude the day with our best friend Connie round to dinner and a cake with more KitKats than you've ever seen. Hooray!

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Is what you need, apparently (see here and here to get that joke!). Lydia is now 2 - and dedicated too! Really, it's already been two whole years.

Not wishing to have too quiet a day, we arranged Lydia's dedication for the same day as her second birthday, with a party for both in the church after Sunday service was done. A genuinely tiring day but one that seemed to be fun for all. So many friends and family managed to be there to join us and make it extra special for our little girl.

Lydia loves her new dolly pram and various dolly related toys

Also plenty of new stories

Bath drums - these really do exist - and she really loves to play on them. She even has a bit of rhythm!

Fancy clothes on for the dedication

The beginning of a lot of cake and treat these past two weeks. Jay has really been excelling herself.

The furthest traveller by far was our friend Rick who had "just popped over" from Pennsylvania. He is Lydia's god father and beyond proud of her! He is also good at reading stories.

Lydia is only briefly mentioned in the Bible - a businesswoman selling purple cloth, but also importantly appears to have been a leader of one of the first churches - but my Mum was determined to get "her story" as she did for Naomi and Miriam. Here it is.

An excited godfather and goddaughter.

Happy Birthday too!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


I have a confession, Miriam. I have felt like you were four for about six months now, so my usual cry of "how can you possibly be four" is replaced with, "really, it's taken this long!?". I think it is a combination of you having quite a few friends who turned four in the summer and also that, for the most part, you are a very big grown up girl, who actually is quite mature for her years.  You are a beautiful girl inside and out and here is the birthday letter to tell you what that looks like right now.

We used to nickname you compliant child, during your time being three that kind of slid a little but that's ok, you were three! We see it coming back, though, you love helping.  Most days when we come home from nursery you pull up a chair and ask if you can help make lunch and if we do some baking you are more than happy to help clean the dishes.  You help mummy fetch and carry things round the house, you are a big help and that is an excellent thing to be :-)

It often catches me by surprise how different you are to your big sister, that's a failing of mine but we muddle our way through.  You are quite happy (mostly) to play by yourself, you like drawing and sticking.  Although if we're all honest, you love having someone to play with. You play beautifully with both your sisters and I think you like being both big and little. When you play with Lydia you help her play with her dollies (there's that helping streak again) and when you play with Naomi you are very good at joining in with all her imaginary stuff, you do a terribly convincing baby cry that has had me convinced (and confused) a number of times!

I guess this is part and parcel of being a middle child but you love the odd occasion when you get some one on one time with Mummy or Daddy, a wee hot chocolate after swimming goes a long way and I am truly sorry we can't do it more often, you are beautiful and precious and I want to build you up as much as I can.

You love being active, it maybe doesn't come all that naturally to you, sitting on a sofa will suit you fine but your favourite activities of the week are definitely jumping beans (you are the most enthusiastic child in that class by a long shot) and swimming. I am so proud of you in the swimming, you have really overcome the nervousness you had for the first few weeks :-)

By far your favourite place to be, though, is wherever Connie is. She is such a good friend to you and you to her.  You are beautifully loyal to her and that is a character trait that will serve you well in years to come. Your perfect day would be to play with Connie at nursery, play with Connie in the afternoon, have tea with Connie and then ideally have a sleepover with Connie.  You two will take over the world one day, I am sure! It's wonderful to have such a good friend, though, I love that you have one.

My prayer for you this year, as you get ready to start school, and become a big sister again and have to share Mummy and Daddy with yet another person (sorry!) is that you would start to realise how awesome you are and how awesome we think you are and how awesome God thinks you are.  I will be praying that this year will be the year that these words sink deep into your heart and you know exactly what you mean to Jesus.

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
                                                                                                                 John 10:10 (MSG)

Baby girl, I love you to an extent I never knew was possible, I love you more than words in a letter could ever adequately express and baby girl I am so proud of the child you are growing into. Well done.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Darling, darling Lydia

Lydia, It's your birthday and you are TWO! I really can't believe you are only two and yet how can you possibly be two! It is my great privilege to write you another letter to celebrate, so here is this year's attempt at letting you know how awesome you are, how great you are, how loved you are and how valued you are.

You are my baby, you will always be my baby, and yet you are very much not a baby any more.  You can definitely do it (whatever it is) by yourself, even if it takes you all day.  You have a determination that I can't even begin to fathom and with it you teach me patience on a daily basis.  At the moment most of our battles are fought around how much you can get yourself dressed, I think you need a hand but you disagree!  You are getting much, much better though.

You know what you like and you are very vocal about letting us know.  You might be the smallest in the family (for now) but you make up for it with a hefty character every single day. You like all things Peppa (and are very good at singing the theme song complete with grunts) and you love dollies. I love to watch you shush your baby to sleep and take it for a walk in the pram.  "Baby sad, Mummy, need cuddle".

You like to be a big girl, you don't want to sit in the pram, you want to walk. "I walk Mummy", sometimes I have time and we let you, you like to hold onto the pram like your sisters do. You're a big girl now, and I am coming to terms with that.

You are getting ever so good at talking just now, willing to give pretty much all words a bash and getting very good at making yourself understood.  You are also excellent and making yourself heard over your sisters, a skill which I am sure will stand you in good stead for years to come.

You have a quiet side too, though. You enjoy sitting watching telly (Peppa) or reading a book. I love watching you figure all the things out. You are very clever darling.  You are very good at observing.

You are wonderfully quirky, I laugh all the time at your antics, you are very good at coming up with things to do, even when those things are not necessarily obvious to the rest of us. Like the day you spent half an hour under Grandma's coffee table even though none of us could really work out what the appeal was!

When we go somewhere new you like to take a moment to stay with mummy and work out the lay of the land.  It's very wise to work out what's going on before you rush into things, but you quickly work out what is where and what you want to do, at which point I don't get so much as a second glance.  You are very confident and very able to hold your own when the situation requires.  I have no doubt that when the baby comes next year that you will do a very able job of making sure that we don't forget about you (not that we ever would sweetheart, you are far too precious for that).

I am looking forward to seeing you be a big sister, you have a beautiful, caring quality and I look forward to you passing on any words of wisdom about being the littlest one. I expect you will get up to all kinds of mischief by being a big one and one of the little one all at the same time.  I expect you will be a brilliant big sister, although I do feel a little bad for you that we have relegated you from the role of littlest. Sorry about that.

I love you baby girl, more than I ever thought I could. More than I ever realised I would. I love you from the very depths of my being to the very depths of yours. I am very excited for what the next year has in store as you start nursery, become a big sister, learn more "stuff" and learn about your place in the world. I pray that this year you will know more of who God is and that He loves you even more than me. You are so precious, Lydia. So, SO precious.

Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.
Isaiah 43:4 (The Message)