Saturday, 21 September 2019

Summer holidays!

This summer we managed to get in a proper summer holiday, a big trip with activities and visits to friends and family, all in one! Despite being done on a bit of a shoestring budget we managed to squeeze an impressive amount into nearly two weeks worth of travel to London and back again, at the high of the summer heatwave...

The first of many new living rooms to play in... this is at Auntie Liz's house on the way down.

And the first of many parks, this one in Loughborough.

Next stop was at my sister Heather's in Chingford.
Lots of paddling pool fun. It was HOT in London!

A very excited Miriam and Lydia getting to try out Uncle Theo's car!

Naomi getting somewhat adventurous at the park in London.

A most welcome ice cream break.

It so happens there was a funfair at the park near Chingford so the girls got to try out some classic amusements. A shame the steam trains that run in the park weren't on that day...

More of the funfair

Cousin Kirsty came over for a visit with her sausage dog slinky (recently also featured on Supermarket Sweep; yes, really), and the girls overcame their fear of dogs

On the hottest day we went for a train ride to the cinema with our cousins

Miriam was most pleased to be seeing Toy Story 4!

Esther just liked having a ride on the train!

Another day and we went to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.
A really fun day out.

The museum has lots of classic toys 

And a few other fun things!

...including a puppet stall for children to have a go at.

On to Jay's sister Fay, and inheriting a lot of Barbie stuff. Here they are giving it a workout on day one.

Biggest swing ever!

A grand day out to a certain block themed adventure park.

Lego everywhere!

And a lot of rides very suitable for wee ones.

Lydia having a go at controlling our helicopter.

Miriam had a shot too...

A brilliant puppet show to entertain us during lunch.

Lydia, Miriam and Naomi had a go on the cars (Lydia was on a different track for smaller ones) but I only got a photo of Miriam. It looked really fun.
Best part of the day was seeing Miriam on rides like this. It turns out she *really* likes them - lots of squeals!
Miriam liked this pirate ship one too.

Naomi had a great time as well, but just trying to capture a natural-looking picture of her happy is too much.

Hey, a local landmark!

Back to Loughborough and a Pizza Hut with friends. This means some Ice Cream Factory action!
There seems to be a theme of foot-related statues in Loughborough.

Naturally, of course, we still needed Pancake Saturday!

All in all, a brilliant time had by all.

Work Stuff

Work continues! Besides the travel to Prague, a few more things have been going on. Right now, the students are back so it's all got very busy - teaching combined with all the usual writing papers and grant applications and all the rest of it. Between all that, a few other things over the summer...

First up, a wee trip to KLM in Amsterdam. Just one day and a night but lots of promising discussions and we should be able to to some really nice work with them.
Exciting view from the office where we spent most of the day.

I enjoyed that the meeting room was "CAPTAIN KIRK"

Another anonymous hotel room and glamorous view!

At least we did see some of proper Amsterdam. Very pretty.

Next up, I was chair of a couple of events in Stirling. One was the SICSA PhD conference, where we had 150 Computing PhD students from all over Scotland for a couple of days of workshops and networking....
Me sitting next to one of the keynote speakers, a guy from BT who does work in AI.

Free conference bottles or bags anyone? We now have an abundant supply of these if you want one.

Just in case this is all sounding far too cool... here's the table numbering at the conference dinner.
Cue joke about there being 10 kinds of people in the world - those who get this and those who don't.

We also had a workshop specifically for people working in my field, evolutionary computation. The idea of this one was that people who had talks in international conferences could share them with other locals who wouldn't be travelling this year (particularly as about five conferences were represented, including the Prague one, one in New Zealand, and other far flung places). Here's me opening the event...

And now to more mundane things...

When I returned from my travels, these red light up X signs had been installed in the corridors where my office is.
Slightly terrifying!

I felt it was necessary to have somewhere to read and ponder in my office, so I now have this nice easy chair.
Lydia helped me take it in, and gave it a test run for me! 
A nice perk of the job, this is a thankyou beer (one of several) from a PhD student I've been helping supervise for the past year, who just passed his viva.

This pigeon was larger than it looks, and kept peering in through my window.