Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Day out

We'd never been to Beecraigs Park before (it's near Linlithgow), but Granny and Grandad were nearby and we went out for the day. It was a spectacular day and there was a lot of fun to be had on some new toys. Plus there is nothing like a picnic with some family!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Messy Church

Back in late May we took the girls to Messy Church being run by one of the other churches in Stirling. They had a great time and we were all able to share in learning a Bible story. Essentially Messy Church has a few stations where there are different activities - usually craft of some kind related to the story of the day - and you can wander round these in your own time. There is then a bit of focused time where everyone comes together and has a wee song and a short talk, and it closes with some food. It worked really well for us and we've been planning to go back, but each weekend has coincided with some major event or travels since. Hopefully we can get to the next one.

See if you can guess the story!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Work travels

I've been away a fair bit the past few months, particularly in the earlier part of the year. I'll do a quick roundup here - though I think the trip to Japan probably deserves a post of its own...

In late March I had a day trip to Manchester Airport to talk with them about their aircraft taxiing operations. This included a tour of the tower and a drive around among the planes. Very good stuff indeed and certainly some hope that some of our research project will find its way into a real airport some time in the future.

I flew straight from Manchester to Aberdeen, where I had a meeting about my sounds project. We got a good level of participation in the project and how have some evidence that we can use my optimisation algorithms to produce sounds that people associate with different places. Still, several months on, I have yet to write up the paper on the results, but all good stuff. This team was a real pleasure to work with!

No photos from the meeting, but this is the view from my B&B - the glow in the distance would be Pittodrie.
I was then off on my Easter holidays for a little under two weeks. On return, I was off to London, twice in five days. Trip one was to talk about the airports stuff with the whole project team. This was accompanied by a visit to my sister (and a stay in exactly the same room at Chingford Premier Inn as last time).

Chingford Plain, and a Premier Inn car park.
Back again a few days later (we tried so hard to make the two meetings at the same time, but too many busy professors were involved). This time as an external assessor for a second year PhD student.

The view from Queen Mary University of London's offices

and the view from my hotel for this visit. If you look closely there are some famous buildings in the distance. 

Finally, a few days later again, I was back in Loughborough for a catch up with various staff and students there. Also a worthwhile visit: lots of nice researchy things going on there.

Gregory Street - just along from our old house and the very first place we ever stopped in Loughborough.

One fringe benefit of the trip to L'boro is the hotel I stay in - Holywell House, with very nice hosts and (crucially) an excellent breakfast.
All this travel has been useful (keeping all these links going is an important part of my job now) but I am not planning to travel nearly as much again any time soon!

Esther's first birthday

Okay, it was in April! - but still worth catching up on.
A few snippets from Esther's first birthday.

Early in the morning, we had a lot of excited big sisters...

The milestone cards are more-or-less at an end!

The party was an extended trip to Briarlands Farm, where we took over a very long table!

A hidden rainbow birthday cake. It was good.

Esther does like her food.

Jay made a felt picture game for one of Esther's presents.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Summer catch up

Most of you will know it's been a hard summer, with the loss of my Dad and my Mum being in hospital for much of August and September. It all helps knowing that God is near and there's no doubt that my Dad is with Jesus now but we all still miss him, and Mum's illness so soon after has been a big challenge. We've drawn on a lot of prayers from family and friends - as well as worldly support too - and we're very thankful for all the support. My work were fantastic. Despite being only 3 weeks into my new job, I was able to just walk out and spend all the time that was needed.

We've also been really proud of how our girls have coped with it all. They miss their Grandad, but have been so positive about it (even when they have also been worried about their Grandma) and have been wonderfully honest about how they feel. They've coped with their Dad being away while I help with the aftermath and visit Mum (and go to work sometimes!) - and they have just got on with things. What a privilege to be their parents through it all.

With all that, things are finally settling down. We managed to get some rest over the summer, and at least had a chance to catch up with various friends and family (on my side - Jay's family have been somewhat neglected over this time and we're long due some catch up there now). A lot of things slid and we're only now really catching up. In the past couple of weeks we've got a bit of decorating done (now we have a house that's ours!), and are finishing a few other odd jobs, including the blog.

So - first a little catching up on a lot of outdoor activities during the hot days of summer.

We'll start with the more sombre tone of the ridiculously beautiful scenery at the crematorium. Very peaceful.

First outing of the big paddling pool this year. Weeee!

Hours of fun.

We now have enough mouths that the wobbly old barbecue just didn't cut it, so we upgraded to something with a bit more room. Yum.

Miriam complained that her feet were too hot.

A lot of time spent in Grandma's big garden.

Miriam found a stick the looks just like Stick Man and played with it extensively.

Here he is up close

Also lots of playing with cousins

Plenty of park action

No comment.

Despite the sun, sometimes a bit of screen time was needed too.

And the odd tea party.

A short trip to the seaside at a windy Banff Links.

Esther is ambivalent about sand.

Sometime sand is interesting.

Playing with Grandma!

Sometimes sand is fun!

Naomi has grown an extra couple of years older in the past few months.

Idyllic beachery

For some reason the girls really like aquariums (possibly aquaria).
So we went to the one at Macduff.
Esther being amused by a flatfish (much less visible than the starfish)

Aquarium visits naturally involve seaside cafes too.

Naomi wore her octopus shirt.

Holidays are hard work. Bed is to the left.

More garden fun.

they all made cardboard phones. This is a selfie taking session.

At home, I stay in with Naomi and built a K'Nex  playground.

Esther likes her fruit.

I stayed up late with the older two, who, it turns out, really enjoy Junior Scrabble.

Special pens make for a fun and yet tidy craft session.
We still have some artwork on our windows now.