Friday 24 December 2010

It's Christmas!!

I guess we had forgotten about the blog because it was originally set up to keep people in Aberdeen(shire) up todate with our goings on in Loughborough and now that we are back in Aberdeenshire we didn't see the need, but I guess a quick post wouldn't go astray!!

Sandy and I have been back in the area since Wednesday, we are staying with my parents for now. The drive was massively uneventful (which we are pleased about) and the snow didn't really slow us down at all, although the cold did as we couldn't get any water out our windscreen washers through freezing and had to stop at every other garage to pour water onto the screen so we could see! Apart from that the only issue is that the baby didn't take kindly to me being sat in essentially the same position for 9 or 10 hours and made this known by beating me up from the inside out!

Today is Christmas Eve and I will catch up with my good friend from school, Alli, and later my parents' next door neighbours are coming over for a wee "party" with their kids, if nothing else it will be good practice for me to have some mayhem to contend with!! We might go to the watchnight service at Howe Trinity later on, I'm not sure Sandy and I are particularly fussed, but this is the last year we will be able to do it without a big fuss, at least for a while!!

Tomorrow, being the big day itself, will see us open our presents with my parents, then after the service at Howe Trinity we will drive over to New Deer and see everyone over there, it will be great to see everyone again, we haven't seen them since we moved, although Sandy is getting a sneak preview today when he stops by on his way home from the dentist!

The rest of our holiday is about ctaching up with as many people as possible, we will spend a few days staying in Aberdeen with our good friend Liz so that we can see more friends more easily, we have missed everyone so much and having left in such a rush we don't feel like we got to say goodbye to everyone properly!

So, let us know if you want to catch up at all, we are around until 3rd January when we will drive back to Loughborough, and I will be praying the baby still hasn't come, I will be a few days short of 37 weeks pregnant at that point!!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Jay (and Sandy and bump!)

Monday 20 December 2010

Open Heaven

We thought we would give you all a bit of an update of things going on at our new church, Open Heaven.

The first thing to say is that this group have people have welcomed us in with open arms, and although I am VERY excited to get home and see some of our friends and family this Christmas, I am slightly sad I won't be around for some the church related stuff going on, as I really do feel I am making real friends here. There have been a few "events" on in the last few weeks, and so we thought you might like to see.

On the weekend that we went to the BBC to see a show be filmed we went to the OH1 expression (instead of the usual OH2 one) mainly because it meets in the afternoon and meant we had plenty of time to get back from Bracknell without feeling rushed. We turned up and it turned out it was the "Christmas Event" which is an opportunity for (especially) students to bring their friends along to something, sing some carols and hear some of God's word. The theme was "A Question of Christmas" and was based around the format of the BBC quiz "A Question of Sport". Sandy was incredibly pleased to learn that there were mince pies galore and a cup of tea before we even got started. He was also quite tickled by the number of boxes of mince pies there were, so he took a photo. It was quite dark in there, but we hope you can get the jist!

Not long after this, we went to the Open Heaven Christmas ball, this was a wonderful night, mainly occupied by students (babysitters are hard to come by for church events, because everyone just helps each other out!) but a great night none-the-less! There was a Christmas meal, turkey and all the trimmings, and a dance with a live band (although I much prefer ceilidhing where everyone is doing the same thing at the same time and there are set moves, I am not so up for the turn and slide kind of dancing!). Again it was quite dark but we took some photos so you might be able to pick out a few things!

In the photo of Sandy and I, you might notice that Sandy is holding a certificate. My lovely husband won the award for best dressed male having gone dolled up in his kilt! There was another chap (from Inverurie of all places) who was there in a kilt, but I agree (even if I am biased) that Sandy scrubbed up best!)

The next thing we have done at church is attend our first ever Christingle event. Now I have lots of friends who would be better qualified at explaining what this is about, but as far as I can tell you sing some carols and then you stick some sweets and a candle into an orange with a red band around it. Everything symbolises something, so I shall try to explain!

The orange = the world/earth
The sweets = God's goodness
The cocktail sticks = North, South, East and West (that this is for everyone)
The red band = the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross
The candle = the light that Jesus brought and left in us.

Here is a photo of my Christingle once I had finished it but before I ate the sweets!!

So, that is it for now, we will miss our OH friends over Christmas but will see them all in the New Year when we get back from Scotland (hopefully)!!

Just to finish, if you would like an updated bump picture, here is one from the night of the ball (although I think it is bigger than this picture makes it look!)

Sunday 19 December 2010


One of the perks of being this far south is that we're pretty close to a lot of things, London included. So trips that would have been a couple of flights become a much simpler car drive and tube journey away, especially if we're provided with free accommodation as Jay's sister was kind enough to do. We were able to make the most of this last weekend with a visit to the BBC to watch a new show called Fast and Loose. It's being made by the same people as Whose Line is it Anyway and Mock the Week, is hosted by Hugh Dennis and features comedians doing improv in a variety of different situations.

I've been on the mailing list for Have I Got News for You and Mock the Week audiences for a couple of years - they're always fully booked within a few minutes of the tickets coming out - so when I got the invite to apply for tickets to this show (sent because I guess they think it'll appeal to the same people) I had a go but was rather skeptical about being successful. Hence I was a little excited when I got sent some tickets - on top of which they're free and given our new location it was realistic that that we could manage.

So, last Saturday we spent a nice morning catching up with one of my old friends from Mintlaw Academy, Blake, who is one of the tallest bus enthusiasts you'll ever meet. We then trekked into London and joined the queue at BBC TV Centre. There was a security check at the door - naturally I was the one setting off the alarms and getting frisked - then we made it into the foyer for a quick eat before being ushered into the studio.

The filming lasted from a little after 7pm until just before 10 for what I guess will be a half hour show but there was plenty going on. There were loads of good jokes and routines, and there was an absolutely genius scene filmed from above that had me cracking up completely. Of course there was all the between-filming stuff too, including Hugh's legendary dinosaur walking. It was absolutely superb, I'm looking forward to seeing the full series on from January. Ours was the last one in the series but we may feature in the audiences for other ones as they mix them up a bit to get the right shots so look out for us - we're right in the middle about five rows back :)

I didn't think to get a picture of us at the studios, so instead here is Ming Tea performing BBC:

Tuesday 14 December 2010


I'm having this peculiar feeling. I'd want to say it's some kind of satisfaction or something, but I'm wary of being too pleased with myself. Suffice to say I'm happy! Last week I was given an introduction to the university's library services, and part of it was a tour of the search engines available for following up references and academic texts. I'm reasonably familiar with this stuff but it's been a couple of years since I had proper access to such things, and egotistical though it may be I immediately did what everyone does when presented with a search engine and had a look for myself. I know what publications I've written (more or less), but the nice bit for me was seeing that several of them have now been referenced by other researchers. It's way cool to think that my work is having an impact on others!

On Friday I was at a training course for both RAs (that's research staff like me) and PhD students. It was telling us what one could expect after getting a job as a lecturer, as well as how to go about applying for positions and what experience is needed. All very useful stuff for my long-term plan. I found myself at a table of all students; I felt a little guilty telling them I'm done with the thesis writing etc which they've all still got to go through. This is odd as it was the complete opposite of the way I've been of late; I've been rather defensive over being not a student. I don't insist on being called "Doc" or anything - this is just good sense in case I ever end up inventing time travel and need to stay hidden from the guys who supplied my plutonium. I do though find myself making it quite clear that I'm an RA and already had a PhD - I'm sure it's quite insufferable.

It has also been quite fun starting to provide input into student projects. It looks like a lowly computer scientist is highly sought after in this department :)

On a vaguely related theme, a student came up to me the other day to talk about something, but soon after arriving had to shoot off for Prayers, which as it happens seem to take place in a communal area not far from my desk. I remarked to Jay later on that I've got a lot of respect for the discipline that Muslims have for regular prayer; there is of course a careful line to tread between spiritual discipline and it becoming "just time to do it" but I wonder if it's something that Christians can learn from.

This is turning in to a longish post so I'll leave talking about our delightful trip to the BBC at the weekend until later. Suffice to say our proximity to London has some major perks :)

Finally, this is in the lift in my building:

The notion that a lift could be much other than civil entertains me - perhaps one day it will cease being civil and I'll be presented with this when I push the "1" button?

Friday 10 December 2010

Just and update for you

Hi everyone! I just thought we should/could/would give you a wee update of everything that is happening for us here in Loughborough.

We have pretty much lost our snow now and even the ice that was making the pavements terrible is essentially gone. This makes me in particular happy because having had my centre of gravity changed and being made to deal with the ice was not proving fun!! Today when I went to the shop the car informed me that it was 7C out, so practically an Aberdeen summer's day!!

I am sticking out more than I was before, my bump seems to have come from nowhere, but there is definitely no denying I am pregnant now, I have even had a few people tell me that I "can't have long left, now"! In fact I have a little under 7 weeks, my due date is 6 weeks and 5 days away (not that I am counting) so the baby could be here in anywhere between 5 and 9 weeks and be considered perfectly "healthy". So as soon as Christmas is out of the way we will be all go on the baby front!

We will soon be heading back North for the Christmas period, loosely we will be in the area from December 22/23 until January 2/3. We have some plans during that time but get in touch if you would like to meet up and we will see what we can do, although remember that we have a lot of friends and family and only limited time for socialising!! We are very excited to see our "homeland" again though, although I am getting nervous that all this snow will mean we will get stuck there with a baby on the way!!

Sandy is still enjoying his job, he is getting stuck into some papers and code just now and is hoping to run some experiments soon so that he can submit a paper to GECCO a conference he has been to before and would like to attend again. He may well get to go regardless of publications but these things are easier to attract funding for if you are having something published. The date for submission is however our due date, so he needs to get working on that, although this is being held up because the project computer's haven't arrived yet (due to the usual university red-tape involved in ordering things!). Everyone would be less stressed if that wasn't hanging over our heads, so pray that all the necessary resources come up!!

We continue to feel welcome and settled in our new church and have settled into a cell group too, this is a great bunch of people who we are grateful to be able to get to know. This Sunday we are going to a welcome meal which will allow us to get to know other new people in the church and also to get a better idea of who the leadership are and what the vision and values of the church are. We are really looking forward to it. I in particular am finding myself very grateful for all the midweek coffees that this bunch of people are providing me with, it is good to get out the house every so often.

Another group I am becoming part of is an NCT-run "Bumps and Babies" group, although normally I am the only "bump" most of the others have babies, but it is good to get to meet people from outside church, to not spend my whole life in a Holy Bubble and to get out into the real world! Opportunities like this should be a bit easier once the baby comes, but for now this group gives me the non-church socialising I need!

In a piece of good news, our Aberdeen house has finally hit the market and we are beginning to see a little interest in it. Still, if you know of anyone who might want to rent a 2-bed house in Aberdeen then they can get all the details here so make sure you spread the word. We received some good news this week in terms of money we can claim back from Sandy's work we hadn't realised about before, but we still need the house to let out soon to keep ourselves from getting into lots of financial stress! God has *always* looked after us in this way before and we know He will again but it does no harm for us to pray and tell people too!!

So, I think that is all our news. I have a cold at the moment so just trying to relax and chill out a bit, keeping healthy is about my only job until the baby comes!

Looking forward to catching up with everyone soon!


Tuesday 7 December 2010

Teeny Tiny Clothes

It has become time, I am nesting, I am cleaning and I am washing lots and lots of teeny tiny clothes

If you look hard enough, the "going home" outfit is in there!

Sunday 5 December 2010

Funny story

Sandy and I bought a copy of the Loughborough Echo today, we wanted to look at the classified ads, but thought we should have a look through the rest of it too. We were laughing for quite some time on finding the following story on page 3 (you had to turn to page 5 to get a story about some thugs who had been arrested!) - only in a local newspaper!!

In other news, we have had our chimney swept and during this cold weather are very grateful to be able to warm our feet at the open fire!!